Tally ho! Foxhunting in Pony Club

Foxhunting is all about the thrill of the chase. Riding horseback with a pack of hounds across the open countryside is an exhilarating experience. The hunt may include crossing creeks and streams, jumping logs and other natural obstacles, and navigating through fields, woods, and all kinds of terrain. Best of all, foxhunting is a sport that all ages and levels of riders can enjoy.

Since 1954, the United States Pony Clubs, Inc. has maintained a close relationship with the world of foxhunting. This can be traced to the fact that most of the early Pony Clubs in the United States had direct ties to hunts and hunting people. The four founders of USPC – Dean and Louise Lott Bedford, Alexander Mackay-Smith, and Col. Howard Fair—all were hunting enthusiasts who recognized the importance of encouraging youth in the sport, while at the same time teaching riding and horse management. Hunting and its age-old traditions reflect the essence of Pony Club training: dedication, discipline, patience, perseverance, good manners, and sportsmanship.

Photos Courtesy of Dave Traxler

Pony Club works closely with the Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America (MFHA), which is the governing body of organized mounted hunting with hounds in the United States and Canada. There are many resources available on their website to learn more about the sport. You can also become a member of the MFHA and receive their magazine and newsletters.

The foxhunting community and Pony Club also work together on a shared mission to preserve and protect open land for horses and riding. Land is essential to virtually all horse sports and equestrian activities. Land stewardship and open space preservation have become cornerstones of the Pony Club educational program, and this is a direct and valuable outgrowth of Pony Club’s long history with foxhunting.

Foxhunting Opportunities

Foxhunting is recognized as a discipline in Pony Club. Although it is noncompetitive, there are many opportunities to enjoy hunting as a Pony Club member.

Various clubs, centers and regions have hosted Foxhunting camps that include both mounted and unmounted instruction. Additionally, USPC participates in international foxhunting exchanges.  Pony Club members can also earn awards and recognition in the sport.

Foxhunting Certificates
Pony Club is a great introduction to foxhunting, and members can receive recognition for learning about the sport. The Foxhunting Certification Award teaches the basic skills and knowledge to safely participate in the hunt field. This certificate is separated into unmounted and mounted sections. A fox pin is awarded for completing the unmounted requirements, and after passing the mounted section, members earn a certificate and USPC Foxhunting Pin.  Applications can be submitted at any time during the year; click here to learn more.

MFHA Fairly Hunted Award
Awarded by the Masters of Foxhounds Association, this recognition is given each year to any young person who hunts five times, acknowledged by a Master of Foxhounds. Successfully participating in the hunts is the only requirement.

Anyone under 18 who participates in foxhunts is eligible, regardless of whether they are a member of Pony Club. The MFHA Board of Directors presents participants with a pin, certificate, a one-year subscription to Covertside, the Magazine of Mounted Foxhunting, and their names are mentioned in an honor roll at the MFHA annual meeting.

Visit Pack Junior | Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America (mfha.com) for more information and to find a hunt in your area.

Photos Courtesy of Dave Traxler

Live Oak Hounds Challenge
The Live Oak Hounds-USPC Foxhunting Challenge Award is made possible through the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. C. Martin Wood III, Joint Masters of the Live Oak Hounds in Monticello, Florida, and Past Presidents of the MFHA. The award is designed to encourage Pony Club members who do not regularly hunt to try the sport; to reward those members who do hunt on a regular basis; and act as mentors to the younger and less-experienced Pony Club members. Awards go to six Pony Clubs/Centers who regularly take the greatest percentage. A total of $10,000 is awarded to the top six clubs/centers that qualify, based on the percentage of total members in the club/center. The award period for the challenge runs from June 1 – April 9.

The Brookfield Land Conservation Award for USPC|
The Brookfield Land Conservation Award was established by Betsy and Jack van Nagell of Lexington, KY in honor of their historic Brookfield Farm, which has been placed in conservancy. It rewards efforts to promote land conservation by Pony Club members, clubs, and centers. Applicants may be a club, center, region, or individual. Up to two $500 awards may be given yearly. The deadline for submissions is November 1.

Click here to learn more about the Brookfield Land Conservation Award.

International Exchanges
Foxhunting offers the opportunity for Pony Club members to travel to the United Kingdom and Ireland, or to serve as gracious hosts in America for the USPC. Foxhunting exchanges typically occur every other year and participants enjoy an amazing cultural experience and numerous opportunities to hunt.  For more information about upcoming exchanges, visit https://www.ponyclub.org/Members/InternationalExchanges/Default.aspx

Find out more about the sport of foxhunting at https://mfha.com/.

To learn more about Foxhunting in Pony Club, visit https://www.ponyclub.org/Members/Disciplines/Foxhunting/

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