After two successful outings at recent hound shows, Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds huntsman Allen Forney is getting ready for the biggest show in the country: the Bryn Mawr Hound Show this weekend in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Forney and his charges of crossbred hounds cleaned up at the Maryland Puppy Show in Potomac on Saturday, and also brought back ribbons from Sunday's Virginia Hound Show at Oat- lands Plantation in Leesburg.
Both competitions were national, and attracted many of the best-bred hounds in the country.
Forney credits his third place of seven entries in the pack class at the Virginia show to his "happy hounds" -- a trait that is evident to anyone visiting the Hunt's kennels off Triadelphia Road.
"I was well-pleased with third place -- getting that ribbon really tickled me," said Forney, a lifelong horse and hound man who began fox hunting at age 6 with his father's private pack of hounds near New Windsor. "The hounds were all sharp and very happy. They showed very well."
In a pack class, up to five couple (10) hounds work a pattern following the huntsman's direction. Hounds are expected to be lively but obedient, a fine line that often is not easy to achieve with exuberant canines.
With tails waving gaily in the air and voices echoing clearly across the Virginia countryside, Forney's hounds showed to good advantage despite the thunderstorm that pelted them during their time in front of the judges.
The hounds' other ribbon in Virginia came in the couple (two fTC hound) class, thanks to full brothers Doc and Dapper. These lemon-colored hounds earned a third in the crossbred classes judged on their conformation or build.
"The judge in Virginia liked the bigger, English-type hounds," said Forney, "but we breed our crossbreds closer to the lighter-boned, smaller American type."
Noted judge Judith Greenhalgh, joint master of Blue Ridge Hunt in Virginia, liked the Howard County-Iron Bridge type of hound well enough to award them several ribbons and a championship at the Maryland Puppy Show.
"Hansel, one of our yearling hounds won the dog [male] class and was overall crossbred champion at that show," Forney said. "And we won the crossbred puppy pack class, too. The judge liked them because of their good bone and good conformation."
What about the Bryn Mawr show where Forney and his hounds will once again face formidable national competition?
"You just don't know what each judge will look for," Forney said. "You just take your hounds and present them. Showing is really secondary to hunting, but it serves a good purpose to get an evaluation of your breeding program and to see the other hounds that you might like to breed to."