Hunter Trials Celebrate 75 Years
This year marks the diamond jubilee of the Moore County Hounds Hunter Trials.
The 75th Hunter Trials will be held on Saturday, March 10, at Betty and Eldridge Johnson's Hunter Trial field located on Old Mail Road, just off Youngs Road in Southern Pines.
The Hunter Trials traditionally marks the close of the formal foxhunting season and showcases field hunters and riders over natural terrain and obstacles. Participants will be dressed in hunt attire.
The action begins at 9 a.m. with the six junior classes (riders under the age of 18) followed by adult classes. Adult classes include a pairs class, a lady and a gentleman hunter classes, and a handy hunter class. The popular hunt team class wraps up the day.
Many of the trophies awarded reflect the rich history of the Hunter Trials. The engraved trophies carry the names of the winners of classes and their horses over the years.
The oldest and most prestigious trophy, the Stoneybrook Perpetual Trophy, was donated by Mrs. Kitty Walsh in 1953. The first winner of the Walsh trophy was a horse named Haymarket owned by Lakelawn Farm, which belonged to Dwight and Mickey Winkelman. "Haymarket was my brother's horse," recalls Peter Winkelman, son of Dwight and Mickey. The Winkelmans came to Southern Pines in 1942. The family commuted between Southern Pines and Skaneateles, N. Y., for many years.
The Stoneybrook Perpetual trophy is awarded to a horse participating in the Hunter Trials judged to be the best overall field hunter. The horses and riders earn the right to compete in the class by finishing first or second in the appropriate classes counting towards the trophy. A field master leads the riders over a course that he or she creates. In order to simulate hunting in the field, the riders do not know which fences will be jumped.
Richard D. Webb, a Joint Master of the Moore County Hounds since 1961, won the trophy last year and has won it several other years as well. "I've ridden in over 50 hunter trials," Webb said.
Webb and his wife donate the Tops'l Farm Challenge Trophy which Webb has also won on occasion.
Mike and Alicia Rosser of Reynard's Ridge farm donate a perpetual trophy which is presented to the best suited horse and rider providing a safe and enjoyable day out with hounds. The trophy was first awarded in 2002 and the recipient was Quizzical, owned and ridden by Fred McCashin.
Several trophies are named after favorite horses such as Hook Shot, who won the Strictly for Foxhunter class one year, and Kittle Hill, who won the Thoroughbred hunter class one year.
A presentation is made to the best overall field hunter that does not necessarily take part in the Hunter Trials but has hunted with the Moore County Hounds for the season. The Masters of the Foxhounds determine over the hunt season which horse or pony is best suited for field hunting. The winner is announced at the Hunter Trails and is presented with a trophy and a silver belt buckle with MCH (Moore County Hounds) enameled in blue and red (the MCH colors). The buckle was created by Hawkins and Harkness Jewelers as a keepsake. Winners of classes receiving trophies may keep them for one year only, so often there is a keepsake given to winners as well as a trophy.
The Moore County Hounds, led by Huntsman Jody Murtaugh, will parade the hounds at approximately noon. The Hunter Trials marks one of only two public appearances of the private pack of foxhounds. The hounds will approach the Hunter Trial course from Old Mail Road and will parade up the hill to the spectator area. Murtaugh will demonstrate the hound's response to the sounding of the horn, showing off the special connection between the huntsman and his hounds.
Judges for the event are Jeanie Thomas, Master of the Foxhounds with Why Worry hounds in Windsor, S. C., and Suzie Cannavino, Joint Master of the foxhounds with the Rombout Hunt in Poughkeepsie, N. Y.
Admission is free with reserved parking spaces available for patrons and sponsors. For reserved parking or more information, call Mickey Wirtz at 692-6806.
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