Excitement is building across the country for the Junior North American Field Hunter Championships on October 23 in Lexington, Kentucky. Aspiring competitors at the Qualifier hosted by Camargo Hunt (KY) had a special experience: Camargo huntsman, Danny Kerr, and visiting Green Creek Hunt (NC) huntsman, Tot Goodwin, combined their packs for a total of 25 couple challenging the young riders to keep up! At the end of an exciting day, nine juniors received the green rosettes signifying they had earned a place at the Championships.
Carla Babcock was the organizer for the September 24 Qualifier at Camargo's Brown Hall fixture in Owen County, KY. Judges included John and Linda McKean from Rocky Fork Headley Hunt (OH), Martha Johnson from Iroquois Hunt (KY), and Shannon Sharpe from Long Run Hounds (KY). John McKean provided the following insight into the judges' experience:
"Judging the Junior North American Field Hunter Qualifer was an unexpected pleasure at Camargo Hunt. My wife, Linda, and I came down to Kentucky with little expectation other than to fairly judge the juniors who were competing in the hunt field. We were taken aback by their enthusiasm, maturity and pure riding ability. The hunt threw everything a hunt could throw at riders; big coops, trappy steep uphills with no real trail, and even a gnarly stone wall with large imposing trees too close for comfort.
Photo by John McKean.
"The juniors did it all with ease and smiles. Judging this type of competition created an alchemy of deep satisfaction seeing what the future of foxhunting has in store for us… provided we are smart enough to engage, inspire, and ignite the passion in these juniors that will sustain our majestic sport for the next generation of fox hunters."
Photo by John McKean.
Along with Babcock, fellow organizers Marion Chungo and Michelle Arnold have been working tirelessly to promote participation and prepare a fun weekend for the juniors at the Championships. In addition to an invitation to hunt with Iroquois the day before the finals, MFHA President Jack van Nagell is hosting a party at his home for competitors and their parents. Entries in the First Flight and Hilltopper divisions will then be evaluated at Sunday's finals in a mock hunt and individual tests. More information is available at www.jnafhc.com