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Belle Meade Foxhound Performance Trials


Hounds are numbered in the kennel and await the day’s hunt.

Riders move off to the foxhound performance trial.

Ryan Johnsey and TVH Headboard

TVH Headboard
From info from Epp Wilson, MFH, Fred Berry, MFH, and Tom Brannon, MFH

The Masters of Fox Hounds Association (MFHA) is sponsoring a series of Foxhound Performance Trials. Each of these events is a great opportunity to experience the very best foxhunting behind an exceptional pack of hounds, and in some of the best hunt country in North America.

Performance trials offer a way for foxhunters to gather, measure hound performance, enhance breeding programs, and exchange ideas. Every three years, the MFHA sponsors the Performance Trial Championships. During the 2021-2022 season, multiple exciting qualifying events culminate with the Performance Trials Grand Championship on March 26-27, 2022 in Hoffman, North Carolina.

Hunts participate by invitation only and they bring only their very best hounds. Hounds are numbered to allow mounted judges to record their observations, which are then loaded into a scoring program to determine the awards.

All fox hunting is fun, and Performance Trials are like “fox hunting on steroids.”  You will find many of the best hounds and the most avid foxhunters at these Performance Trials. This level of foxhunting is definitely an adrenalin sport.

Belle Meade Hunt in Thomson, Georgia hosted their 21st qualifying performance trial on January 22-23, 2022. The Pack Championship winner was Tennessee Valley Hunt (TVH) of New Market, Tenn.

Competition was stiff!  Seven of the best packs of hounds from Illinois to Kentucky to Georgia competed, and they had outstanding hunting both days.  A team of twelve judges scored hounds in the categories of Hunting, Trailing, and Full Cry.

 Ryan Johnsey, MFH and Huntsman for Tennessee Valley Hunt (TVH), was asked to comment on the weekend’s Performance Trial. Ryan was very complimentary of how well organized and well run this trial was, by Epp Wilson, MFH and the Belle Meade hunt. He said that placing well at a performance trial can be a matter of a hound being at the right place at the right time, and the stars seemed to be aligned for TVH’s hounds that weekend. “We were asked to choose five of our best hounds for the competition and, when asked which one I would root for the most, it was TVH Headboard. This hound lived up to my expectations. I’ve been watching him perform well all season. He shines! He is pure Penn-Marydel, bred and whelped at TVH, with lineage from both Longreen Foxhounds and ‘Doc’ Addis. His dam was TVH Heartless, who was one the last drafts that we got from Todd ‘Doc’ Addis, MFH before he died in 2019.”(Editor’s note: Doc Addis, DVM was the first Huntsman for TVH in 1989-1991 and established the foundation pack for TVH. Doc was instrumental in promoting the Penn-Marydel breed of foxhound, generously drafting hounds to hunts throughout the U.S.)  Ryan added, “Scoring of a particular hunt and hound at a performance trails is the culmination of placement in various categories both days, such as hunting and endurance. There is a reason there is a second day. A particular hound may not perform as well two days in a row. That said, all hounds performed very well and no hound got picked up for running deer.”

TVH and Shawnee Hounds both had two hounds place in the top ten both days. Three hunts, TVH, Shawnee, and host hunt Belle Meade, had two hounds each in the top ten on the second day. Belle Meade Bullet was the overall first place winner and TVH Headboard placed second. TVH was the winning hunt with three hounds in the top ten.  These top ten hounds qualified for the National Performance Trial Championship scheduled for March 25-27, 2022 in Hoffman NC.    
Results from day one: TVH’s Headboard ranked number three, with TVH’s Willow number five. Portia, from Bridlespur Hunt, was in the number one position, followed by Ziggy from Thornton Hill in second. Bell Meade’s hounds: Saber was fourth and Bullet was sixth. Shawnee’s hounds: Cuda was seventh and Jamie was ninth.      

Results from day two: Belle Meade’s Bullet moved to number one and Bismark was number three.  Thornton Hill’s Fishhawk was second. TVH’s Wallet was fourth, Headboard was sixth, and Hudson was ninth. Shawnee’s Foghorn was fifth, Gandalf was seventh, and Gipper was tenth. Bridlespur Hunt’s Bond was eighth.

Overall Total: Belle Mead’s Bullet placed first and Bismarck third. TVH’s Headboard was second, Wallet sixth, and Hudson eighth. Thornton Hill’s Fishhawk was fourth and Ziggy was fifth. Shawnee’s Foghorn was seventh and Gandalf was tenth. Bridlespur’s Portia was ninth.

For further information, visit the MFHA website: facebook: FoxhoundPerformanceTrials

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