April 24, 2018
The Masters of Fox Hound Association (MFHA) held its Biannual Hunt Staff Seminar in the lush, bluegrass area Lexington, Kentucky April 12-13, 2014. While most of the seminar was hotel-bound, there were also outdoor activities to enjoy in the sunny, warm spring weather. Participants were treated to a choice of a guided tour of Gainesway Farm, one of the top Thoroughbred stud farms in the world, or the Iroquois Hounds Kennel. Some of the participants were able to enjoy a day of racing at Keeneland Racetrack.
This year’s Master’s seminar was not limited to Masters of Foxhounds. Masters could invite key members of their hunts for insight into how a hunt club is managed. A panel of foxhunters who are professionals in marketing and journalism gave a presentation on Social Media Marketing. There were speakers on the progress of MFHA’s Professional Development Program, Hound Nutrition, and Masters’ duties in a hunt. Representatives from Garmin International demonstrated the latest improvements in GPS tacking collars for hounds. And there was information on how to be a good Field Master, developing good land owner and neighbor relations.
The second day’s seminar for hunt staff and masters consisted of panel discussions by huntsmen and masters, some of whom are also trainers or eventers, with tips for riding across country with speed and safety. The exciting part of this presentation was the film, with audio taken from a helmet camera, on a full gallop coyote run in the California desert.
There was an engaging panel discussion about how to encourage children to join the sport of foxhunting. One way is through U.S. Pony Club, which has a long tradition of linking with foxhunting. At U.S. P.S. Festival every three years (2014 is a Festival year), U.S. P.C. hosts a foxhunt during the educational portion, usually led by one of the local Kentucky clubs. “Picture 100 kids turned out and ready to ride at 7 am!” said the panelist. The Foxhunt is voted a “favorite activity” at festival each year. Woodford Hounds’ Huntsman Glen Westmoreland offered his advice: “Treat kids like hound puppies!” He advises setting up kennel visits so kids can spend time with the hounds, and offering other opportunities for the kids to just “hang out” with the hounds. He thinks “kids are pack animals. They like to be with other kids. They are competitive – if one kid can blow the hunt horn, other kids will try. If one kid can crack the whip, other kids will try.” He offered advice on how to teach: “Teach the way kids learn. Make it a game. Let them use their imagination. Reward their efforts. Make them welcome. Structure the hunt activities and fences to suit their needs, and help them find appropriate mounts. Pretty Is As Pretty Does: safety is the number one concern.”
The concluding, and most fascinating, presentation was given by Stanley Gehrt, Ph.D from Ohio State University, whose field of research is the coyote. He and his team have been studying urban coyotes living in Chicago for the past 14 years. He had plenty of tracking data overlaid on maps, plus infrared photos and videos of coyotes going about their daily lives – hunting, socializing, and raising a family – literally within a few feet from humans, but completely unnoticed. He has amassed a lot of information about coyote migration, DNA similarities to other canids, and their social, hunting, and reproductive habits. Dr. Gehrt has started a new study of coyotes in Nova Scotia who have lost their fear of humans and have become aggressive, resulting in one human fatality. We’ll be interested in seeing the results of that study.
Dr. Stanley Gehrt is Associate Professor and Wildlife Extension Specialist in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State University. http://senr.osu.edu/our-people/stanley-gehrt See a YouTube video of Dr. Gehrt discussing the state of urban coyote populations at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDca99wjMMU. Read an article about Dr. Gehrt’s research at: http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/urbcoyot.htm
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