Mission Valley Hunt Club (KS) hosted visitors from across the central region of the country on August 8 at the Great Plains Summer Hunt Seminar in Kansas City, Missouri. Organized by Jane Jeffries, DVM, MFH, the day's panelists included experts across a variety of hunt-related fields. Attendees appreciated the information as well as the opportunity to share experiences and ideas with others, sometimes a challenge during the season due to the vast geographic distances between hunts in this area.
Organizer Dr. Jane Jefferies, MFH, David Twiggs, Dr. Marvin Beeman, MFH, Andrew Barclay, Tony Leahy, MFH, and Dr. Christine Petersen. Photo by Tracy Frank.
Presenters then offered in-depth coverage across a range of horse, hound, and hunting topics. Executive Director David Twiggs explained his forward-looking vision for the MFHA, including opportunities to promote our sport, and positive strategies to respond to the challenges we face. One goal is to help hunts find new members through networking with like-minded organizations, and to attract social members as well as riders.
President Tony Leahy's engaging talk emphasized setting long-term goals for development of a top pack of hounds. His knowledgeable presentation was highlighted with a video of a beagle pack, to demonstrate what true excellence in a pack of hounds looks like. Jeffries commented, "It definitely showed what 'you could throw a blanket over them' means!" His talk was complemented by a scientific examination of hound health issues from University of Iowa associate professor Christine Petersen, DVM, Ph.D. Dr. Petersen's research in immunology, zoonotic diseases, and global health has helped her become the expert on Leishmaniasis in foxhounds, and their particularly susceptibility.
Marvin Beeman, MFH, Arapahoe Hunt (CO), delivered his popular analysis of equine conformation relating form to function - such as the difference between the ideal horse for a 100-mile endurance ride and the ideal horse for roping a 1200 pound steer. Rhonda Martin of Equine Mechanix added an analysis of equine movement, soundness and saddle fit based on her expertise as a certified equine physical therapist. Her power point presentation followed the skeletal and muscular anatomy treated by this work.
Rounding out the program was vaunted huntsman and MFHA Professional Development Program coordinator, Andrew Barclay, discussing hunting hounds in his educational and often hilarious way. MFHA Great Plains District Director Luke Matranga, MFH, North Hills Hunt (NE) moderated a Q & A session with the speakers at the end of the day, before everyone adjourned for dinner.
Dr. Christine Petersen. Photo by Tracy Frank.
Jeffries said, "We enjoyed a cocktail party at the Kansas City Country Club hosted by Mission Valley Hunt and ex-MFH Jill Turner. Of course, when a big group of fox hunters are in a room together with cocktails, fun is sure to follow. The seminar was definitely geared to all foxhunters – not just staff or masters. We had a great cross section of members, staff and masters for the weekend. I believe we ended up with 13 hunts represented."
Attendee James Fain, MFH, Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS) commented, " As a newly elected Master, I found the Seminar to be beneficial on several levels. I believe fox hunters are part of a unique sport that requires some specific qualities from participants - and that belief was reinforced during the course of the weekend. I played sponge as experts and relative newcomers (of course almost everyone is a newcomer when Dr. Beeman is in the room!) shared knowledge and 'opinion' across a wide range of topics related to foxhunting - from the practical to what I'd call 'strategic policy.'"
Cathie Kornacki of host Mission Valley Hunt (and ex-MFH at Fort Leavenworth) added, "Knowledgeable speakers shared their insights about hounds and horses, and participants also heard about land conservation, access, and the evolving priorities for MFHA. Just like any educational seminar held at the beginning of the new year - many new friends were made and old friendships were rekindled. We all left with a renewed interest and excitement about our sport."
The panelists and audience enjoyed opportunities to socialize over cocktails and excellent meals, continuing the discussions and exchanges of ideas. "I can’t thank our speakers enough for their generosity and time – they were what made the weekend special," said Jeffries. Twiggs added, “It was a fantastic seminar with great speakers, great hospitality and all the camaraderie you expect when foxhunters get together to celebrate the sport. Thanks to Dr. Jane Jeffries and Mission Valley for organizing this." All agreed they would encourage more of their fellow members to attend next time.