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Green Spring Valley Hounds & Hunt Club

The Green Spring Valley territory consists of about 35 miles square in Baltimore County and all of Carroll County. The home country and north country are open and rolling with great deal of grass. Some sections lying in between are rough and heavily wooded. Post-rail, coops, and board fences predominate. The east side of the country adjoins Elkridge-Harford Hunt; on the west and northwest side of the country adjoins Howard County Iron-Bridge Hunt and the Frederick county line.

Q & A with Huntsman Sam Clifton on Hound Exercise

  • Q: What is the goal of hound exercise? +

    A: The young entry need to get familiar with the country. Also it is exposure to a field of different horses, neighbors’ dogs and so on. Basically we want them to see anything they might be exposed to out hunting. The other important part is for the pups to see how the older hounds behave because that is a big way that they learn.
  • Q: How do you get them ready for this phase of their training? +

    A: We walk out with hounds every day, except Sunday, throughout the year. We go 4-5 miles in any direction. The puppies start going out like this at around 10 months. But to get to that stage takes a lot of work. First we take them out one at a time on leads. That’s why it is so helpful for people to take the young puppies home to get them used to walking on a lead. Eventually we can take them all out without leads in a group. We alternate going on foot, bikes and horseback.
  • Q: Is the goal of hound exercise to get them fit? +

    A: I’m not worried about fitness at this stage. They are probably too fit for what they are now. I just want them to get the exposure. You don’t want a pack of hounds racing fit August 1.
  • Q: What are you looking for as you watch them move off? +

    A: It’s such a habit I don’t think about it but I am programmed to watch how they move, see if anyone is lame, who seems unsettled by the field, that kind of thing. Shannon adds: You can see who will be sharp or sit back now but will have to wait to see how they use that.
  • Q: How many hounds are in the GSV kennel now? +

    A: 43-1/2 couple are here and ready to go. At this point anything that is here is going to start. We’ll take out 6 or 7 couple of puppies each day.
  • Q: What are you doing when we are at a “check” and you are letting the hounds play for a while? +

    A: Well it’s all about a mindset. I want them to know how to settle themselves down after a run. When the season starts, more often than not we find a fox within a few minutes of leaving the driveway and that’s very exciting for them. They have to be trained to come back from that. Look at Woodsman (an experienced hound). He sits and lounges till we are ready to leave then he is a machine, he is on! You have to be able to switch them off. A pack of hounds you can’t switch off is a pack of hounds that is going to get into trouble. We have to keep the intensity in check for now. That’s why when we hack out I jump down with them. When I spend a little extra time with them it gives them a chance to relax.
  • Q: What do you wish the field understood about this part of the process? +

    A: I hope people appreciate that the whole process is to get to the end result. I hope people appreciate what goes into producing a pack of hounds. There are so many details that make the big picture.
  • Q: So how can the field help at this point? +

    A: The only thing I ask is to be cautious of where your horses are. As much as we have done with them, the puppies are still very impressionable and fragile. The simplest thing can set a pup back. Pay attention to hounds coming by. They want to be up with me and with the other hounds so if you move aside they will go. You don’t need to coax them. Just give them room and let them figure it out. It’s about space. Don’t crowd a hound; it just makes it more confused. Mostly just listen to what’s going on in front of you, the intensity of it all. It’s all about listening and watching a pack of hounds work.
  • Q: Lastly, how is Norman doing? (Norman is a peculiar looking puppy who got a rocky start in life two years ago and has a following of fans.) +

    A: He is the biggest pain the ass and completely spoiled rotten! If there is one hound that is going to sneak through a fence or into someone’s garden it’ll be him.
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