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The 4th Annual Hounds F4R Heroes was held on April 26-28, 2019 at the National Beagle Club at Institute Farm in Aldie, VA. Twenty packs of beagles and bassets participated. Boulder Crest Retreat in Bluemont, VA has been the cause this organization has supported for the past four years. The retreat is for our veterans and their families who are recovering from PTSD. The two-day event combines field trials, bench shows, and welcoming social events for competitors and spectators.

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Farmington Harmony was Champion Bitch and Overall Beagle, entry of Billy Bobbitt and Glenbarr Beagles. Liz Reeser photo.

The Basset Two Couple Pack Trial began Friday morning with weather conditions featuring rain, wind and thunderstorms. Judging the bassets this year were Mr. Alasdair Storer, MB, and his daughter Evie for the Middletown Valley Beagles (MD). The hundreds of acres of maintained country around the Institute Farm are identified with particular names and sections, so that each entry can be directed to cast where other packs have not yet hunted.

The first pack out was Hill & Hollow with Master/Huntsman Carter Amigh. The Holding Area woods were drawn and a rabbit found, but with scenting being difficult, it soon evaporated. Huntsman Amigh moved to the Enclosure, where again rabbits were found but scenting still did not hold well.

Second pack was Ashland's A pack hunted by Jt. Huntsman Donny Maley. The kennel woods was drawn with a rabbit up and across the parking area, where again scent would not hold. Huntsman Maley took to the low country below the cabins with a very sporting rabbit. With the constant changing weather this rabbit too was unable to be pushed hard.

Third Pack to run would be Hill & Hollow's B Pack, with Huntsman Amigh at the helm. Drawing upstream to the Pond with hounds feathering, a few voices opened but again the weather gods had other plans for hardworking hounds.

Fourth and final pack was Ashland's B pack, with Jt. Huntsman and Master Mary Reed. She drew again along the creek to find yet another sporting rabbit. As weather pushed in Huntsman Reed found conditions to be challenging.

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Judges Alasdair Storer, MB, Middletown Valley, and his daughter Evie (right), with Steve and Tucker Fox. Janet Quintaince photo.

With the field work complete, the bassets moved to the back lawn of the Institute for the Bench show. As Alasdair commented, "You ladies made it hard on Evie and I in the field with lovely hound work; the bench show was not any different." The judges made a decision between two dog hounds. Ashland's Avatar '16 (Ripshin Vampire '12/Ashland's Autumn '12) shown by Jt. Huntsman Donny Maley and Hill & Hollow's Denali '16 (Ripshin Nautical '14/Hill & Hollow's Ada '09) shown by Master/Huntsman Carter Amigh. The judges asked for the hounds to go off lead and run together. With several conversations among themselves, the judges pinned Hill & Hollow's Denali Best Dog Basset Hound.

It was then time for the Bitches to shine. Again Alasdair and Evie had their work cut out for them. With the Best Bitch Basset Hound going to Ashland's Avid '16 (Ripshin Vampire '14/Ashland Autumn '12).

On to the top honor of Best Basset Hound. Both Avid and Denali were asked to go off leash and run together. With Alasdair liking the bitch hound and Evie liking the dog hound, the judges took their time. Still having difficulty with making their decision, truly wanted to award both with the top honor. Avid pulled it out to take the top honor as Best Basset Hound on the bench for the 4th Annual Hounds F4R Heroes.

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Ashland's Avatar shown by Donny Maley. Janet Quaintance photo.

This completed the basset portion of the trial and it was on to lunch in the Institute. Meals at Aldie are a communal, family affair in the downstairs dining room of the historic main building. Wooden plaques recognizing past trials winners cover the walls as attendees sit together at tables. Trish Fox, who is the Operations Manager for the trial and head cook, had lunch waiting. Trish always provides the best food. She and her staff provide breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the cocktail hour for the three days. If anything, come to this event for the food. It is to die for.

Steve Fox, without whom (along with his Co-Chair, Matt Lafley) this event would not exist, took the floor to give results for the Basset two couple pack trial:

1st: Ashland's A pack with Jt. Huntsman Donny Maley
2nd: Ashland's B pack with Master/Jt. Huntsman Mary Reed
3rd: Hill & Hollow A pack with Master/Huntsman Carter Amigh
4th: Hill & Hollow B pack with Master/Huntsman Carter Amigh

The next event was a new addition to this year's trial: The Two Hour Stake class, to include both Beagles and Bassets. Twenty-eight hounds entered. The judges were Mr. Larry Bight and Mr. Bill Ashcraft, and with the weather rolling in, the two hours became 3-1/2. At one point the skies opened up and the rain began. The harder it rained the harder the hounds ran, from one end of the Enclosure to the other (80 acres worth). Ultimately, the winner of the Two Hour Hounds F4R Heroes Stakes Class: Old Chatham's Beagle Smoky.

On Saturday morning, the 18 beagle packs took to the grounds. Judges were Bill Ashcraft, JT Berry, Taylor Lewis and Jeremy Geiger. Scenting conditions did improve but not by much. Two beagle packs ran at the same time on the grounds. The even-numbered packs starting in the 80 acre Enclosure and the odd-numbered packs on the main grounds. After lunch, the evens go to the main grounds and the odds to the enclosure.

At lunch the Beagles took to the back lawn for the beagle bench show. This year's Best Beagle was Billy Bobbitt's Glenbarr Beagle bitch.

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Winner beagle two couple field trial, Moe's Mob Beagles - Maurice Frazier. With Trish Fox, Steve Fox, Matt Lafley, Bill Carmichael and Daniel Brown. Liz Reeser photo.

On Sunday morning, the top two packs from the odd/even numbers are selected to complete for the Beagle Field Trial Champion. The four packs for the 2019 trial were Moe's Mob Beagles, Cabin Fever Beagles, Octorara Beagles and the Old Chatham Beagles. After torrential rain Saturday night, the sun came out Sunday morning. With very humid conditions, sport was again challenging.

Results for the 2019 Hounds F4R Heroes Beagle Two Couple Field Trial:

1st: Moe's Mob Beagles Maurice Frazier
2nd: Cabin Fever Beagles Daniel Powell
3rd: Octorara Beagles Larry Bight
4th: Old Chatham Beagles Jack Kinsley

Big thank you to Sandy McKenna and Liz Reeser and staff for the organization of the silent action items. And to Steve Fox and Matt Lafley on the live action items, plus Trish Fox on the cash prize drawing won by Carter Amigh. Amigh graciously donated this prize back to Hounds F4R Heroes.

It takes a village to make this fun weekend a success:

Operations Manager/Head Cook: Trish Fox
Co-Chair/Event Secretary: Steve Fox
Co-Chair: Matt Lafley
Basset Field Trial: Carter Amigh
Bench Show Secretary: Keri McCoy
Field Coordinators : Steve Fox and Matt Lafley
Silent Action: Sandy McKenna and Liz Reeser
Cocktail Parties: Liz Reeser, Jay and Sandy McKenna, Steve and Trish Fox and Matt Lafley
Pig Smoker: Bad Ass Smoker Man Bruce
Kitchen Crew: Trish Fox, Millie Brown, Noah Woerl, Carly Vance, Brenda Norman, Natalie Sweeney and Vanessa Vance.
NBC Caretaker: Ray Owens

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Hounds F4R Heroes supports local resources for veterans. Sara Faulkner Maley photo.

Proud sponsors of Hounds F4R Heroes: Purina, Dan's Hunting Gear, Gundog Supply, Audley Farm, Simple Stunnting Jewelry, Gores Slaughter House, Bradley Caldwell, English Country Classics, Tullu Rector, Nalls Farm Market, Camino Real, Bright farm LLC, Hog Modern Mercantile Berryville VA, Food Pro, Joan Barret, Creekside Gifts, Fast Eddie & The Blue Rhythm Band, Bluemont Vineyards, Bogaty Wine Group, Dirt Farm Brewery, Diamond Dog Food, Tri County Feed, Harris Teeter, Sport Mix Dog food, Salamander Resort & Spa, Oyster Bar, Heathcliffe Clothiers, Ted Swedalla Custom Dog Crates, John Stem Wood Artist Extraordinaire and Artist Le'France.

Without these folks and sponsors the Beagle/Basset Hounds F4R Heroes would not have gotten off the ground. See everyone for the 5th Annual. Happy Chasing!

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