Foxhunting is something that I’ve been intrigued with for years now. While I’ve not had a lifestyle that permitted me to join the field, living somewhere again with an active hunt club (two, actually, here in the Lexington area) makes the opportunity to learn about the sport very accessible.

Recently, compliments of a foxhunting friend, I went on my first Iroquois Hunt hound walk. Simply put, a hound walk is a walk through hunt country with a pack of hounds of varying ages and experience to teach them the lay of the land and to learn about their individual personalities.

While the Master of Foxhounds (MFH) and huntsman will walk with the scent-hungry hounds, there will also likely be a few mounted foxhunters along to turn the hounds should they not respond to the call of the MFH, or to seek out the occasional wandering novice hound.

On this particular day we were five on foot and three mounted with eleven couple (hounds are counted in pairs, so twenty-two) of foxhounds. And tried as I might have, I couldn’t resist uttering the words “Release the hounds!” when I saw the doors of the trailer open and the pack burst out.

Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps

We walked across the field over the hilly landscape while the hound advanced and retreated to the sound of the MFH’s prompts and horn blows.

    Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps

They will survey the land . . .

Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps

and when they come back in . . .

     Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps
 they are amply rewarded by the MFH with treats from her bottomless leather satchel. And it’s every hound for himself!
Sometimes a hound–or a couple–will stray. It’s understandable for the novice hounds in the pack–so many scents to follow! 
To facilitate the tracking of wayward hounds, each one is outfitted with GPS collars, like these . . . 
Photos by Melaina Balbo Phipps

The fields were wide and very inviting to roam . . . 
   Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps
    Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps
and, understandably, we were not the only ones enjoying the countryside that day. 
It seems that as much curiosity as was aroused in the hounds by the scents and the sights was also aroused in the herd of cattle that decided to take a break from their grazing and stalk us around the fields . . . 
    Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps
They were definitely interested in what we were doing out there, in what I can only surmise they considered their land.
For such a large herd they were fairly stealthy.
    Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps
and they kept their distance . . . mostly.
    Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps
But for as gentle as these bovines can be, there is something very imposing about turning around and seeing this . . . 
    Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps
And I’ve learned that you shouldn’t let their languor fool you, they can catch up pretty quickly when they want.

                     Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps
After a couple of hours and with all hounds accounted for we made it back to the trailers and cars, a successful hound walk complete.
Hounds were happy to relax after a good morning’s work . . . 

    Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps

    Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps
but the cattle seemed to want us to stay a bit longer . . . 
                      Photo by Melaina Balbo Phipps
I guess that means they won’t mind if we come back. 
A great many thanks to my friend for taking me out, the MFH for the beginnings of my foxhunting education, and our host for the access to enjoy his beautiful piece of pasture!

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