The Hark Forward initiative invites foxhunters across the continent to join together and strengthen our community, no matter geographic distance, style of hunting, type of country, or nature of quarry. Tejon Hounds' (CA) Performance Trials last week were an outstanding example of interstate camaraderie, rivalry, education, and plain thrilling hunting in the vast open territory of the Tejon Ranch. Hounds from Red Rock Hounds (NV), Big Sky Hounds (MT), Santa Ynez Valley Hounds (CA), Santa Fe West Hills Hunt (CA) competed, and Juan Tomas (CA) brought hounds for one day of Tejon's hunt week.

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The performance trials pack with Claire Buchy-Anderson, Santa Ynez Valley huntsman, and Emily Ainza, Santa Ynez Valley whipper-in.

Tejon Hounds are uniquely incorporated into the fabric of Tejon Ranch, a publicly held corporation with interests in exclusive retail and resort community properties, in addition to the 270,000-acre ranch - the largest single piece of private property in the state. The Tejon Ranch Company runs a comprehensive sporting program, including hunting and equestrian activities. Its company philosophy says, "From establishing huge conservation areas, enacting a habitat conservation plan to protect a wide variety of plant and animal species, to using the latest environmentally sensitive practices in our ranching, farming, and real estate operations, Tejon Ranch is committed to conservation."

Just registered with the MFHA in 2013, and with few besides huntsman Tyce Mothershead and whipper-in Hilary Mothershead having any background in traditional mounted foxhunting, Tejon offers excellent sport in this vast, well-maintained hunt country. Tejon MFH and operations manager of the ranch, Mike Campeau, was credited with doing an amazing job orchestrating all the Performance Trial events and putting together a great team to pull them off.

The pristine landscape is also excellent habitat for coyote, who provided ample keen sport through the trials. Tyce Mothershead was the trial huntsman. Judges included Grand Canyon huntsman Peter Wilson, Red Rock MFH and huntsman Angela Murray, Tejon whipper-in Hilary Mothershead, Santa Fe West Hills MFH and huntsman Terry Paine, Sedgefield Hunt (NC) MFH Fred Berry, and Santa Ynez Valley whipper-in Emily Ainza. 

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A sporting quintet: Tyce Mothershead, Tejon; Lynn Lloyd, Red Rock; Angela Murray, Red Rock; Renee Daniels-Mantle, Big Sky; Claire Buchy-Anderson, Santa Ynez Valley; Peter Wilson, Grand Canyon. Hilary Mothershead photo.

Berry spoke with Covertside and stated, "Hilary was just the nicest, most competent, easy-to-be-around person to help run this event. Tyce did a super job hunting the hounds, especially since it's so difficult to hunt such different-thinking and -working hounds." He observed that when drawing, one can see for miles - yet the quarry was present, seemingly invisible, finding cover in the slightest dip or patch of tall grass. Hounds accounted for several coyote over the two days of hunting. "It was the most spectacular western hunting I've ever participated in," he added.

Berry noted that given the huge fixture and open, treeless spaces, Walker hounds and lurchers are being bred into the pack, to add sighthound blood and technique to the chase. "It's just a radically different way to hunt, the pace, the scope," he explained.

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Judge Fred Berry, MFH, Sedgefield Hunt (NC), concentrates on getting his scores calculated correctly. Hilary Mothershead photo.

Social events included the Blue Jean Ball inside the area at the Tejon Ranch Equestrian Center, with awards for the first day. Folks from the Ranch's cattle operation were also invited, creating an eclectic mix of conversation through the evening. A hunt breakfast followed the second day's competition and Tyce Mothershead presented the final awards at the conclusion. Grand Canyon Hounds emerged the overall champion, with Grand Canyon Lolo '14 (their Kody x Wilson's Lady) overall champion hound and huntsman's choice winner.

Many volunteers deserved credit for putting together this fantastic showcase of western-style hunting. In particular, Red Rock's Amy Lessinger, volunteer scorer, was repeatedly mentioned as an amazing contributor in the grueling task of score calculation.

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Tyce Mothershead presented the Huntsman's Choice ribbon to Grand Canyon Lolo, huntsman Peter Wilson. Hilary Mothershead photo.

To view the full results, click here.

To learn more about activities at Tejon Ranch, click here.

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