BY KAMERRA BROWN ALLEN
Virginia is where I call home and grew up riding. I recently moved to Missouri in August 2020 to take the job as Hunter/Jumper Instructor and Assistant Professor of Equestrian Studies at William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri. At the same time as my move, a wonderful mutual friend and mentor Sally Lamb introduced Sarah Mckay to me as she moved from Virginia to start a hunt with Huntswoman Sarah Martin. We connected and I immediately wanted to introduce William Woods students to foxhunting. Previously, the students went down to Virginia for a wonderful week of hunting hosted by Rita May Brown. We hope to continue that tradition, but also give the students more exposure and experience locally.
I recently participated in the Ozark Highland Hounds Opening meet on December 18, 2021, and wow! Just in a short amount of time, the hunt has grown. They had a wonderful turnout. I hope to have the students experience this next year as they all were home for winter break during that time.
There were a variety of rider backgrounds from juniors, team ropers, rodeo, ranch horse, sidesaddle, barrel racers, hunter/jumpers, eventers, dressage, endurance, carriage, genuine cattlemen & cowboys, and mounted shooting riders who participated in opening day! Ozark Highland Hounds aims to promote an inclusive environment where everyone can learn about the traditions of foxhunting and it showed.
The OHH staff is made up of Sarah Martin, co-founder, Master, and huntswoman; Crystal Everhart, co-founder, Master, and Whipper In; and Sarah McKay, President & co-founder, Master, and Whipper In. Sarah Mckay grew up in Orange County, Virginia, learning to hunt under Sally Lam and with Keswick and Bull Run Hunt in VA. She moved to Missouri four and a half years, whereas Crystal Earhart and Sarah Martin are lifelong Missouri residents.
Sarah has hunted her whole life, whipping in for 14 years before taking on the huntsman role. She explains Ozark Highland Hounds’ history. “We started OHH in 2020 with a vision of bringing mounted foxhunting to a new part of the state and introducing folks from a variety of backgrounds and ages to the sport we love. We have been so grateful for the support we have received by our local landowners and community and supporters across the country. It has truly been our honor to help promote more access to and inclusivity of this sport in an area that previously did not have these opportunities. We are beyond excited at the growth over our first two seasons and have enjoyed partnering with other non-profit organizations and supporting local businesses through the growth of our hunt community.”
OHH hunts mainly coyote, with the occasional red fox, gray fox, bobcat, and mountain lion. Crystal has worked with hounds her entire life, breeding and reviving the Goodman breed of coyote hounds. Her family is actively involved in participating and winning Regional and National Goodman Trials. OHH integrated these hounds that were formerly truck hunters into their pack, which also has American foxhounds and crossbreds.
The Kennel is located in Steelville Missouri (pop. 1,642) along the Meramec River. Steelville is the county seat of Crawford County, Missouri. Crawford County hosts many resorts, state conservation areas, and waterways making it a prime summer tourist area. Surrounding rivers include the Meramec, Huzzah, Courtois, Bourbeuse, and Gasconade with many other split off creeks and natural springs. It is part of Missouri’s wine country and also boasts several trout hatcheries. Most notably Crawford County is home to the northern most sections of the Mark Twain National Forest. This area is within the northern section of the Salem Plateau of the Ozark Highland region.
The hunt’s mission is “… to provide participants with a unique opportunity to recognize and enhance the human connection to the natural world through education and experiences in conservation endeavors, rural communities, agriculture, animal husbandry, and working animals. Through hunting with hounds we hope to preserve the countryside and rural way of life for the enjoyment of future generations.”
Ozark Highland Hounds maintains relationships with the following organizations: Power of Hope Equestrian Center, Exceptional Equestrians, Sportsmen’s Alliance, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Agricultural Extension, Missouri Hunting & Working Dog Alliance. They hunt with other Midwest hunts including Shawnee Hounds (IL); Fort Leavenworth (KS); North Hills Hunt (NE), and private packs including local truck hunting community. They maintain memberships to Bull Run Hunt (VA) and Green Spring Valley(MD) as well as traveling throughout the Midwest and East Coast regularly to expand our hunting knowledge, experience, and of course make new hunting friends. OHH also partners with the Crawford County Foxhounds, President Gerald Earhart, and often hunt with each other, which has been a unique partnership.