Mells Foxhounds Fun Show

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By Tom Brannon; photos by Michael Gomez

Mells Foxhounds held their “fun” horse show on May 7, 2022 at Sugar Valley Farm in Giles County, Tennessee, which is one of Mells’ regular fixtures for fox hunting. Sponsored by Morton Buildings, this horse show was not one of your run of the mill shows where everyone rides inside a perfectly manicured arena with engineered footing. It was the brainchild of Clair Pinney, Whipper-In for Mells, who thought it would be fun to hold a show similar to the county horse shows that are held in her native England. These types of county horse shows have been taking place in the British Isles for several hundred years and are attended by farmers, villagers, and royalty alike.

As in the English tradition, at this show families and dogs were encouraged to attend. In fact, dog races were a big part of the show. There were Terrier races and non-Terrier races, as well as Lurcher (with 5 entries) and an open Lurcher race, which was won by a poodle. Even though the dogs had designated running lanes, not all stayed inside them and not all ran the correct direction. Even so, it was great fun for the dogs, their owners, and the spectators. The final dog event was a parade class titled “The dog the judge would most like to take home,” judged by Mells’ Huntsman Charles Montgomery. The winner was Wyatt, a Bassett Hound who is a blood pressure service dog.  

On the equine side of the show, there were Hunter and Jumper classes, with jumps provided by Silver Bay Jumps of Primm Springs, Tenn.  The course was set in a grass field where the “arena” was marked off with ropes. This type of “out on grass field” course is not only within the English County show tradition, but is much like the types of terrain found on a fox hunt. The weather was dry, with temperatures in the mid-70s in the morning, but a mist came up in the afternoon making course more of a challenge.

There were Mounted Games sponsored by United States Mounted Games Association (USMGA) set up like a gymkhana, with classes such as Speed Weaver (bending), Flag Moving, Mug Moving, and a Sword Lancer class. All of these classes test the dexterity of horse and rider. 

There was also a family class, a lead line class, as well as an award for best turned out rider, won by Ron Augman who was attired in his U.S Marine Corps dress blue military uniform, fit for formal inspection.

The “Big Class” was the Jumper Stakes sponsored by Bliss Saddles with a $500 purse split between the first three standings.  In first place, taking home $250, was Steph Gollobin riding Mallory. Steph hunts regularly with Mells.

Clair said that Mells plans to hold another fun show next spring, on May 6, 2023 which is also Kentucky Derby day.

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