An abundance of fox was a key ingredient for the best Penn-Marydel Hound Performance Trial yet, held March 8-10th, 2019 in Wicomico Hunt’s Eastern Shore of Maryland. This was the second year Wicomico has hosted a Hound Performance Trial, showcasing the Penn-Marydel hound, which has its origins in the Pennsylvania-Maryland-Delaware area. Fred Berry, MFH of Sedgefield Hunt (NC), a renowned performance trial judge wore his usual chief judge hat, with his wife Elaine Berry and fellow Sedgefield Master Jan Sorrells.
Marlborough huntsman Jason Cole with his champion Vidalia, right, and runner-up Valor. Photo by Isabel Kurek.
Mitzi Cabeen of Smith Mountain also came up from the south to judge again, because she has so much fun and is always in the right spot! New this year was Rosie Campbell, MFH of Bull Run Hunt in Virginia to lend an impartial (to PMD’s) eye to the judging. She recently judged the 2019 Performance Trial at Belle Meade and managed to ride hard enough to be the only judge to get several of the final “accounting-for” scores on coyote!
Wicomico Master Ed Fry led first flight and their new huntsman, Marti Morani, debuted as the performance trial huntsman. A tough act in your first year as huntsman to put 35 hounds from seven hunts together and hunt them in front of very experienced huntsmen like Garry Riggs, MFH of Red Mountain (NC) and their huntsman, Andrew Daly; huntsman Lincoln Sadler of Moore County (NC); to mention just two of the other hunts. Marlborough Hunt (MD) huntsman Jason Cole brought five of their best hounds, as did De La Brooke Foxhounds (MD) and their new huntsman, Kami Wolk. Carrollton Hounds (MD) huntsman Ben Swope and Kimberton Hunt (PA) huntsman Phil Shirk were also represented by five hounds each and Warwick Village Hounds from Pennsylvania represented huntsman Ann Addis Emlen and John Dean.
Friday night kick-off was at Garon and Donna’s Stutzman’s Muleskinner’s Club in Centreville, Maryland (famous for hosting the 2017 20-mule Borax team while in Washington D.C.). Performance trials are a time for hunts and huntsmen to get together and share food, wine and hunting stories. The evenings get louder and the tales get taller as the night progresses. The Horn Blowing contest was won by Lincoln Sadler of Moore County Hounds, who in addition to his five best hounds and his horn, brought his beagle pack, which delighted many on Saturday afternoon who followed by mule wagon at this Centreville fixture.
Saturday morning was warm and overcast, perfect scenting weather. Marti Morani quickly put the 35 hounds together and then wasted no time in setting off for the first draw at Starkey Farms in Galena, Maryland. Scenting was excellent and as noted previously an abundance of fox made the morning fly by. The hounds found immediately and then hardly let up for the next three hours. Marti Morani drew north along one shore, pushing fox across open fields as they raced to another cover along a further shoreline. Foxes were viewed multiple times by all the fields and the hounds truly hunted as one pack for the majority of the day. We actually stopped hounds at noon so as to have horses for the next day!
As the whipper-in on the “outside” I did have to stop hounds several times as the fox was heading to roads. I am always reluctant to stop a full cry run, but these hounds managed to stop and it gave me a chance to watch the whole pack streaming as one towards me. It is a testament to these hounds and their respective huntsmen that a whip- cracking stop did not shut them down and they were agreeable to regrouping and quickly harking to the horn to find another fox. Which they did repeatedly!
Marlborough Vidalia ’15 #20, and Valor ’15 #9, littermates by Marlborough OJ, out of Golden’s Bridge Kelby ’10, were standouts on both days, either on the lead or diligently working out a loss. Warwick Village Silly #22 was also in front with Moore County Dour #5. Red Mountain Trooper #64, De La Brooke Vandall #13 and Kimberton Bathtub #3 also scored highly. These all placed as top ten hounds and in every category received high scores.
Saturday night we returned to Muleskinner’s Club and enjoyed an excellent Chicken Piccata and Crabcakes prepared by Chef Dave Perry. The Stutzmans and their chef truly exemplified the hospitality and the camaraderie among foxhunters. The Moscow Mules and the “Mule” strawberry shortcake topped the evening. Marlborough Hunt took top honors that night with Vidalia and Valor as champions, followed by Moore County. We retired after deciding to push the start back 1 hour thanks to Daylight Saving Time change and we hoped to miss the forecast rain.
Marlborough Vidalia. Photo by Isabel Kurek.
Sunday dawned overcast and rainy but by 10 am it was clear and we roaded hounds immediately into cover along the river on Dr. Harry Sears' Chino Farm. We headed towards the landing strip and picked up the first fox in the tall grass. This fellow crossed the runway in clear view offering judges full cry points for the front of the pack, then he circled and ducked through the cover until we were too close to roads and Marti continued drawing to the south and east. After thoroughly scouring the 200 acres of native grasslands and getting some great trailing scores, hounds struck a line taking the entire pack across two rather large ag fields towards the Chino Farm lake. Along the lake dam and the shoreline Reynard flashed past riders multiple times and hounds continued to show drive, voice and sport.
At noon we called it a day, as the judges had many scores and felt it was good stopping point so that guests could get away by the afternoon. We returned to Queen Anne County’s 4-H Park where we were stabled and Allen Hungerford, our terrific statistician, quickly entered the judges’ scores. While we waited, we had our fill of Adam’s Ribs pulled pork and brisket and chili and renewed friendships and commitments to visit and hunt with each other.
Marlborough Hunt stole the show and took ribbons with four of their five hounds in the top ten. Vidalia and Valor were Champion and Reserve respectively and not surprisingly, Marlborough Hunt took Top Pack honors. Interestingly these two hounds, Vidalia and Valor, as well as Victor Too ’15 #41, are littermates out of Golden’s Bridge Kelby ’10. The other two Marlborough entries, Waterford ’17 and Wade ’17, are out of Uplander ’14, who was also out of Golden’s Bridge Kelby ’10.
If you have followed the Hark Forward Performance Trials, you would have noticed the dominance of the get of a brood bitch named Warwickshire Daylight. This hound was bred by Charmain Green and her litter resulted in many of the top champion hounds in various field trials. See the latest issue of Covertside Magazine for a full accounting of this story.
Marlborough Valor. Photo by Isabel Kurek.
I mention this, as it seems Golden Bridge’s Kelby ’10 certainly stamped her Marlborough hounds with drive and determination. She herself was a dark tricolor, on the smallish side but she was a great strike hound and completely honest. If she opened you knew it was good! In Thoroughbred racing these foundation females are called Blue Hen mares. I am not sure of the term here but it is important to note when such a strong female line is showcased in this way and excellent hunting qualities are being passed on to litters. Performance trials are a way for such characteristics to be noted and measured against other hounds, in order to be able to pick the best hounds to breed.
Jason Cole has done an excellent job in his first two years as Marlborough’s huntsman. Last year he won the Reserve Championship with Vice ’15 another of Kelby’s sons.
Rosie Campbell noted to me at the end of the day that it actually was often difficult to single out specific hounds as they were hunting as a pack and the lead ones were constantly changing. It was Vidalia, then Silly, then Dour and they leapfrogged like that all day. Their endurance was particularly noted, as they were hunting as hard after two or three hours as when they started, and they were most reluctant to stop! These Penn-Marydels knew their fox was there and nothing was going to prevent them from finding him. Circling, ducking through cover and refusing to come out were exhibited traits, which prove their doggedness. Sometimes exasperating, but you cannot fault their determination to hunt.
It was a wonderful weekend and everyone had a great time. Many thanks to Wicomico Hunt and the judges, staff, hosts and members who made it all possible.