A capacity crowd of huntsmen, Masters, professional staff, and foxhound devotees filled the Carriage House at Morven Park the morning before the Virginia Foxhound Show to hear Marty Wood, MFH, Live Oak Hounds (FL), deliver a comprehensive presentation on hound judging. Wood, a former MFHA President and current member of the MFHA Foundation Board, has spent more than four decades breeding hounds, more than three decades judging hound shows, and countless days in the field observing conformation in action. The seminar inspired conversations and rave reviews through the weekend, as MFHA Executive Director, Dennis Foster, observed, "To say it was a huge success is an understatement. Marty really put together something special — even experienced judges benefited."
Marty Wood addresses an attentive audience in the Carriage House at Morven Park.
Illustrated by more than ninety slides carefully selected by Wood, the seminar covered three broad areas: Quality, Activity, and Balance, with the speaker's general thoughts on judging added throughout the two hour program. Katharine Byron, MFH, New Market-Middletown Valley Hounds (MD), noted that the images perfectly complemented Wood's points: "Marty did such a great job explaining why a particular anatomical point is important in the field. The pictures of hounds turning on a line, in full extension on a run, the specific neck set — it really let us see precisely how form follows function." As he analyzed how to evaluate hounds for overall quality, standing, and in motion, Wood also shared insights for hound exhibitors to give their entries the best chance in the ring.
Jennifer Hansen, huntsman at Woodbrook Hunt Club (WA), called it "a great presentation" and shared several priorities that impacted her. "Movement, agility, and durability are of the utmost importance. So you need a sound body and mind.... The hound's topline should be strong with special attention to the loin area, and a neck long and strong enough for the hound to have excellent balance while sorting out scent and running with its head down." Along with many other conformation points, broken down element by element, Wood's talk overall left Hansen "feeling more prepared to attend the next day's hound show." A lively question-and-answer period followed the conclusion of the formal presentation.
The satisfaction of having received a superlative tutorial was universal among the attendees. Reflecting on Wood's thorough preparation and generosity, Byron stated, "Marty and Daphne [his wife, Joint Master at Live Oak, and fellow former MFHA President] are so skilled at communicating their wisdom, and they're so gracious in sharing their experience to educate other foxhunters. Their enthusiasm for our sport is tangible." The Woods buit their vaunted Live Oak pack from scratch, as Foster notes, and their devoted adherence to principles of sound breeding created "one of the best packs anywhere in the world. It is no wonder Marty's seminar was so good; he's made a study of hounds to a degree seldom seen — he lives and loves them."