by Vicki Crawford (photo by Janet Hitchen)
Larry Pitts started his hound career as a kennelman in North Carolina with Sedgefield huntsman Ian Milne. Ian saw something special in Larry and recommended him to William Brainard, MFH Old Dominion (VA), who has an English and an American pack. Master Brainard saw something in him, and declared that Larry would make a great huntsman “some day.”
After spending time with Master Brainard learning the traits of the different breeds, Larry was hired by Eglinton-Caledon (Canada) where he remained for the next four years. Major Charles Kindersley was MFH at the time and experienced in hunting the pack himself. He was an excellent teacher for Larry and guided him through the intricacies of breeding and training hounds. His standards were very high and he expected perfection in the kennels. Major Kindersley always put the hounds first and Larry continues this tradition.
In search of a new huntsman, and after hearing about this “special young man” with potential, Potomac’s then MFH Tommy Dowd recruited and hired Larry for the 1980-81 season. However, Larry was not happy that first winter at Potomac. The hounds were unruly, always hunting deer, and not responsive to Larry. He had no tricks up his sleeve. He tried to leave, but there were no other jobs available.
So he stayed. And he persevered. He spent those first seasons retraining the hounds, weeding out the bad ones, and teaching them to come to him and listen to him. He gained the confidence of the hounds. He spent hours and hours working with the hounds, getting to know them as a pack, and everything about each hound, both in the kennel and in the field while walking them out.
As the years ensued, Larry proved that he was not only one of the best huntsmen ever, but that he could also breed a beautiful level pack of hounds, showing – and winning – consistently at the Virginia and Bryn Mawr Hound Shows.
Although he breeds a beautiful hound, Larry has always tried to improve on the hounds ability to hunt, maintaining that a well-bred and beautiful hound will run, hunt, and last longer than one that has a conformation defect. He starts with great feet and then works with the rest of the body. Larry believes that it takes two generations to take an imperfect hound and create and breed a beautiful hound that will be a good foxhunting hound. Although his breeding program started immediately in 1980, it took a few years before his hounds started to win consistently.
Larry has received many awards over the years for his breeding program but this year he achieved the ultimate prize: The Huntsman’s Award, voted by his peers as the hunstman who most epitomizes the best of the best throughout the United States and Canada. He received this award at the Bi-Annual Master’s of Foxhounds Association Seminar.
As Larry’s extraordinary career comes to a close, his 35 years hunting Potomac’s Hounds speaks volumes. We are so grateful and fortunate.