Samson’s baby pictures

Cottesmore puppy walker Nina Camm with Samson and friends. Believe it or not, Samson is the light-colored hound in her lap. There's no sign of that red color that's so easy for us to spot now!

LAST year, after we wrote about Samson’s trip to the United States, we got an e-mail from Nina Camm, the woman who was Samson’s puppy-walker in England. She explained that she had always loved Samson and was happy to keep up with his adventures since his departure from the nearby Cottesmore pack. We were delighted to hear from someone who knew Samson “back in the day,” and we asked her if she’d mind sending some baby pictures and any recollections she had. They finally arrived this week, and we are happy to be able to share them.

According to Nina, Samson was born on February 20, 2007, and came to her from Cottesmore huntsman Neil Coleman’s kennel and April 8 of that year.

“The first picture,” Nina writes, “shows his mates who became his ‘brothers’ whilst at walk with me. From the left is a hunting beagle pup Blenheim, next is the Belvoir foxhound Bellman, then Samson, who at this time was the youngest, and lastly, on the right, is beagle pup Dawlish.”

The thing you’ll notice right off the bat is how much Samson’s color has changed. He was a towheaded youngster, but he’s a redhead now–one of the things that makes him easy to spot on the hunt field. In fact, in his baby picture Samson looks uncannily like our own Mr. Box–maybe this is as a result of hanging around with all those beagles? He grew out of that pale coat color, though. Nina also sent along a sort of high-school-age picture of Samson and pal Bellman, which shows Samson’s coat beginning to darken. “This is when Bellman and Samson had become accustomed to collars and would go off walking around the village with me,” Nina writes.

Belvoir Bellman and Cottesmore Samson walking in England with Nina Camm

“Bellman was born on 10th January 2007, so was that bit older than Samson,” writes Nina. “Bellman had been with me at walk since 9th March 2007, so he, Blenheim, and Dawlish had their feet firmly under the table by the time Samson arrived. All four slept, ate, and played together.”

Here is Samson today, so you can see how much his coat color has changed.

Samson, as photographed by Dave Traxler in December 2010.

Nina also sent along a picture of the Cottesmore’s puppy show program, which showed Samson’s name. “Sadly, Samson didn’t come in the top three, but I never worry too much about that,” she wrote to us. “As long as they hunt, I always think.”

Nina shouldn’t worry about that. Since arriving in the U.S., Samson has been a real asset to the Iroquois pack. Kennel manager Michael Edwards reports that Samson is outgoing and friendly to the people who work with him now, and Iroquois huntsman Lilla Mason has been tremendously pleased with the red-and-white hound.

“He’s such a hard-working hound, and he’s invaluable,” Lilla said. “He always has his nose down. He’s quick to straighten out a line, and when they make a lose he’s often the hardest-working hound. He’s a leader to the puppies, for sure, because when he’s working hard they emulate that. He’s a top-notch hound.

Samson in profile. Dave Traxler photo.

“It’s quite a bit different hunting coyotes than hunting foxes, and you wonder how hounds will do when they come here and the quarry switches. To come to a different country where the smells are different, and where we have raccoons and skunks and different animals and trees and grass, I think it can take them time. Jerry was very complimentary of Samson when he hunted him last year, and this year I’ve really clicked with him. He loves hunting coyotes.

“We’re considering using him as a stallion hound, which is a compliment in our pack, because we only breed one litter a year.

“I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve been hunting the hounds, I’ve said, ‘Thank you, Neil!’” she added. “Because Samson is just a heck of a hound, and I’m so happy he was drafted to us. I really appreciate that Neil did that. The Cottesmore bloodlines have proven themselves to be superb on coyote. Coyotes run so much farther than foxes, and when you look down after a six-mile point, who’s there? Those hounds with Cottesmore bloodlines.”

When Samson is pensioned from the working pack, he’ll live out the rest of his days in happy and dignified retirement under the auspices of the Hound Welfare Fund. (By the way, our 2011 fundraising dinner and auction are coming up in March–watch this space!)

“If I won the lottery, I would be on the first flight over to see him and give him a massive hug,” Nina writes. “I know for certain he would still remember me, but until then please give him a big hug and kiss.”

Will do, Nina!

Bedtime Stories: A sampler from the NSL stacks

An occasional series in which we offer a pleasant “good night” to our readers, courtesy of hunting literature. Sweet dreams!

IT’S been a busy but very pleasant week of study here at the National Sporting Library in Middleburg, Virginia, where the bookshelves and archive boxes are filled with vivid foxhunting and beagling history.

So for the Bedtime Stories this week from Virginia’s hunt country, we thought we’d present a few of the tales and scenes we’ve found this week.

A huntsman and his memories

Young Jack Molyneux spent most of his life in hunt service in England, Scotland, and Ireland, from about the time he was 12. He got his start riding with his father, who also was a huntsman. In his memoirs, Thirty Years a Hunt Servant, published in 1935, he recalled being a young whipper-in with the Lanarkshire Harriers in Scotland. The pack’s Master at the time was a Colonel Robertson-Aikman:

“They were the smartest pack of hounds I’ve ever seen in all my experience and used to win most of the prizes at Peterborough. Colonel Aikman had an up-to-date model kennel and was a great hound man. … The hounds loved Colonel Aikman, and every Sunday afternoon we walked them down to his home, The Ross, standing about a mile from the kennels. Generally he would return with us. I’ve seen those hounds, after he had gone back some time, leave us, get on his line and go right back to The Ross and find him. This is the only pack I’ve ever seen do this.”

While with the Lanarkshire Harriers, Molyneux also got to try his hand at hunting the hounds one day when kennel-huntsman Sam de Ville was sick. It was a tough introduction to carrying the horn.

Jack Molyneux as a whipper-in at age 18

“A second horseman came with me, and off we set through some big doors on to the road. The doors were carefully shut behind us, and it was a good job they were, as things turned out. Just before we got to Hamilton, the second horseman behind was making such horrible noises (he meant them to be ‘hound talk’) that all the hounds bolted for home. When they got to the doors by the kennels and found them shut, they went on about another mile, with me going racing pace to catch them. I got them stopped and started off again, but this time I made the second horseman go in front and say nothing, so we arrived at the meet. Next day there were a lot of hounds with sore feet, but I dared not tell Sam what had happened.”

The abduction of Trojan

Scrutator, the pen name of the English MFH Knightley William Horlock, wrote a number of books about hounds and hunting in the late 1800s. This bizarre incident is described in his 1865 book Practical Lessons on Hunting and Sporting and reveals, among other things, the lengths some men would go to to get their hands on a good hound’s bloodlines, and the lengths to which they would go to avoid admitting to Welsh blood in the kennels, even when it improved their own hounds and hunting. We, of course, highly favor the woolly Welsh bloodlines, which have been so successful for Iroquois.

“There was an old specimen of the ancient Britons who had a very killing pack of Welsh extraction, which would worm a fox out of the mountain fastnesses, or eat him there and then. Amongst these was a dog named Trojan, the leader of the van. The fame of Trojan had reached the ears of a well-known master of English foxhounds, who resolved to have a look at him, and judge for himself whether the report was true of this dog’s extraordinary prowess. Accordingly, having obtained the necessary information as to the next fixture of the mountaineers, our master of fox-hounds sent a hunter overnight to the nearest village; and Trojan and his master being both ‘peep-o’-day boys,’ he had to get up in the middle of the night to be in readiness–eight o’clock being the hour of meeting even in the winter months. In short, no advantage was considered  unfair by our Welshman to take over his enemy, and the only chance with a Welsh mountain fox is to have at him before he has well digested his supper, or the prospect of getting his brush is exceedingly remote indeed …

One of our noble and leonine woollies, Stalker, now retired through the Hound Welfare Fund

“Well, it so happened that Trojan and his comrades blew up a brace of foxes by about the usual hour of meeting in civilized countries now-a-days; and the English master being perfectly satisfied with his performances as well as figure, not only coveted his neighbor’s goods, but resolved to avail himself of Trojan’s services. But the Saxon, thinking it infra dig. to enter any young hounds on his list as got by Mr W.’s Trojan, effected his purpose in another way. …

“Jack (his whipper-in) went to Taffy’s house and kidnapped old Troojane, as the Welsh call Trojan. It happened in this wise: Jack, the whipper-in, having ascertained the ins and outs of Mr. W’s kennel, dressed as a Welsh drover, taking advantage of the master being mystified as well as his man, one misty evening, whispered through the keyhole of the kennel door to Trojan that a young lady outside wished to see him on very particular business. The gallant old dog stepped out at once, without waiting for a second invitation; and as the language of love is easily understood, whether in Welsh or English, Trojan was inveigled by the Saxon beauty to leave his kith and kin among the moutaineers, and accompany her back to her English home.

“On Trojan being reported missing the next morning, inquiries were set on foot, and search made for the old gentleman in every direction for many days, and even weeks, without avail. And, as Trojan was considered prime minister by his master, advertisements were at last put in the local papers, with a full description of his personalities, offering a reward for his apprehension. By this time, Trojan having served the purpose for which he had been abducted, Jack was instructed by his master to inform Mr. W that a stray hound answering Trojan’s description had found his way to their kennels some weeks previously, and might be had if proved to be the missing animal. A trusty messenger was despatched immediately for the truant, and Trojan returned to his rightful owner, not, however, before he had become the father of a large family, which, to mystify their descent, was represented under a different parentage.”

Furrier, one of foxhunting's great hounds

The great Furrier

George Osbaldeston (1786-1866), better known as Squire Osbaldeston, was lucky enough to own a foxhunting star in Furrier. In his autobiography, he describes how he acquired this hound from the Belvoir when that pack drafted him, even though he was a descendant of the great Hugo Meynell’s powerful breeding program:

“As we hunted five and six days a week, we were obliged to enter 25 couples of young hounds annually, and not having sufficient quarters, even including my own in Yorkshire, for so many, we used to get drafts from Belvoir. The Duke drafted them himself; and I happened to be present on the occasion when Furrier was drafted.

“Looking over the lot in the presence of the kennel feeder, whose name was Jervis, before the Duke arrived, the man pointed out to me a very fine hound indeed. He was black and white. Jervis said, ‘That is the best bred hound in the kennels, but I don’t think his Grace will keep him.’ I asked, ‘Why not?’ and Jervis said, ‘Because his legs are not quite straight.’ I expressed the hope that the Duke would draft the hound, for I saw what a magnificent animal he was; quite perfect in every respect except his legs. Jervis told me that all his sort were generally straight, and he thought this one must have been kept tied up at quarters, which system is the destruction of a great many young hounds every year. I asked how Stormer, as I think he was then called, was bred, and was told that his blood was direct from Mr. Meynell’s best sort. While the Duke was drafting the young hounds I was very anxious, fearing he might keep this one; but luckily he did not, and I got him.

“Furrier turned out a wonder. He was as sensible as any Christian, had not a fault, and when he learned what his duty was, which he did in a very short time, never committed an error. I never saw a hound that could top the fences like him; a gate was nothing to him; he merely touched the top bar; no fence except a bullfinch could stop him; and at the end of the hardest day he came home with his stern up as if he had never been out at all. Almost all his stock followed his example; I never had so good a sort in my life.

“Among the pack I bought from Lord Vernon was a dog hound descended from Lord Yarborough’s sort whose get were as stout as those of Furrier, but had not his other qualities. I mixed them, and certainly the cross turned out marvelously. More than half my pack were Furriers, and Sir Richard Sutton’s were the same. Sir Richard swore by them. Any hounds in other packs which have distinguished themselves are generally to be traced to old Furrier.”

Of horses and hounds

Stalker the horse and Stalker the hound

Stalker the horse and Stalker the hound

IROQUOIS has a lot of horses that are named for hounds. Joint-MFH Jerry Miller always has named all his horses for hounds, not all of them Iroquois hounds. Miller’s great hunt horses Furrier and Tennessee Lead, for example, were both named for famous hounds from history. (Furrier was described as “crooked as a crab’s claw” but the black and white Belvoir-born hound “ran hard at head and was as stout as oak” in his career with the Quorn and Brocklesby, according to author William Scarth Dixon; Furrier went on to become not only a famed hunting hound but also a renowned sire).  

But many of Miller’s current horses–such as Gangster, Farmer, Bonfire, and Grundy–are named for Iroquois hounds of the recent past. A few are named for hounds that are still with us, such as Stalker (pictured above with his equine namesake). Now retired under the auspices of the Hound Welfare Fund, Stalker is the fourth hound profiled in the “Meet the Hounds” link provided with his name above.

The Iroquois field secretary has a hunter named Harlequin after her favorite hound, the Hound Welfare Fund’s retiree of the year for 2009-2010.

Members of the field also have honored hounds by naming horses after them. I understand one of our accomplished young riders has a horse named Glog, just as Iroquois has a hound named Glog. Willy, if you’re out there, send us a photo of your horse!

If you’ve got a horse who shares a name with a hound, please e-mail beagle52@aol.com. Tell us why you chose the name you did and a little about your horse. If you’ve got a picture of your horse, send that as a JPEG file, too, and we’ll post it.

I’ll get the ball rolling. My horse, Sassoon, and the hound Iroquois Sassoon ’04 both were named for the English writer and World War I soldier Siegfried Sassoon. He’s best known for his poetry about the war, but he also is the author of the sporting classic Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man. I got my Sassoon in 2003 from the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. The same summer, Jerry gave the name Sassoon to the only male puppy in that year’s litter by the great Iroquois stallion hound Grundy and out of Bicester Sandal.

The hound Sassoon was entered at Iroquois in 2004, the same year my Sassoon hunted his first full season.

Sassoon hound

Sassoon hound

 Iroquois Sassoon ’04 has gone on to fame and fortune! He won the foxhound championship at the Mid-America Hound Show a couple of years ago and has turned into an exemplary hunting hound. He’s easily recognizable in the hunt field, because he’s large and woolly.

My Sassoon has had a more up-and-down path. In 2005, just before the start of what would have been his second full hunt season, Sassoon got a tiny puncture wound underneath his fetlock while he was turned out. The puncture went into the tendon, infecting the tendon sheath, which then required four surgical tendon flushes and a stay at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute.

We weren’t at all sure he’d survive, but he did. Then we were pretty certain he’d never be rideable again, but he surprised all of us by coming all the way back. It was a long recovery, but in 2008 my vets declared him hunting sound again. He had missed two full seasons when I took him out again last October for the first time since his injury.

 

Sassoon horse

Sassoon horse (the black one!)

He’d been off so long, I put a green ribbon in his tail to let everyone know he might be unpredictable. That morning I overheard another rider remark, “She’s saying that horse is still green?”  That seemed unkind, but then she didn’t know the full story!

Sassoon doesn’t get out hunting as much as either of us would like (this really is true, according to a “horse psychic” I met at a horse sale the other day!), but he’s a great pleasure in my life, as I’m sure your horse is, too.

By the way, Siegfried Sassoon died in 1967, but his son George carried on his father’s support for hunting. When the foxhunting ban was debated in England, George and his stepson put pro-hunting signs on the family’s pasture fencing. The day the ban went into effect in 2005, George attended a local hunt’s first post-ban meet for drag hunting. He was too frail to ride anymore, but he wore a Countryside Alliance sticker (and an old Soviet army hat!).

George Sassoon and his furry Soviet hat attended a local drag-hunt meet in February 2005 after live fox-hunting was banned in England. He thought it was both flattering an amusing that there was a hound named Sassoon across the Atlantic in Kentucky!

George Sassoon and his furry Soviet hat attended a local drag-hunt meet in February 2005 after live fox-hunting was banned in England. He thought it was both flattering and amusing that there were canine and equine Sassoons hunting across the Atlantic in Kentucky!

George, a farmer, engineer, and linguist, died in 2006 after a remarkably interesting , though sometimes turbulent, life. After his funeral, the attendees gathered in in his regular pub. One of his pals at the bar, on hearing I was from Kentucky, said, “That’s where they’ve  got that hound and horse called Sassoon!” I got a kick out of that, and I guess George did, too.

Guest blogger: Lord Henry Bentinck

Lord Henry Bentinck: Legendary 19th century hound man and Master of Fox Hounds

Lord Henry Bentinck: Legendary 19th century hound man and Master of Fox Hounds

Okay, okay–Lord Henry Bentinck, MFH of the Rufford and then the Burton hunts in England, actually died in 1870.

But he can still post here, thanks to the written words he left behind in “The Late Lord Henry Bentinck on Foxhounds: Goodall’s Practice.” (Hey, if the man can be published beyond the grave, he can certainly blog)
The Goodall that Bentinck refers to is William Goodall, who hunted the Belvoir hounds in England for 17 years before his death in 1859 as the result of a riding accident.
The grandson of another well-known huntsman, Stephen Goodall, William Goodall had started his hunting career at age 11 as a second horseman and began carrying the horn at the Belvoir when he was just 25. He was widely admired for his natural ability with hounds, and there is no doubt he was devoted to his work with them.  In 1849, the author of the sporting guidebook The Hounds of England observed, “William Goodall is, perhaps, one of the hardest-working men alive. After hunting on Monday–no matter at what hour he returns–he feeds his hounds, and then has to ride to the kennels at Ropsley, a distance of fourteen miles. Here he hunts on Tuesday, feeds, and hacks it back to the Belvoir kennels; then hunts on Wednesday. On Thursday he travels with the hounds to Ropsley; hunts on Friday, and back again to Belvoir that night, where he hunts on Saturday.”
Bentinck greatly admired Goodall’s method of handling hounds. Shortly after his 1863 retirement from the Burton mastership, Bentinck, stuck indoors during a blizzard, felt moved to write a letter to the pack’s new Master, Henry Chaplin, extolling the virtues of “Goodall’s practice.”  Inspired by the lengthy letter’s wisdom, Chaplin published it privately and then, after Bentinck’s death, publicly.
Here, then, are some of Bentinck’s words about Goodall’s relationship with his hounds, one that Bentinck and many others in hunting’s heyday held up as ideal.
“In handling his Hounds in the open, with a Fox before him, he never had them rated or driven to him by his whips; never hallooed them from a distance. When he wanted them he invariably went himself to fetch them, anxiously watching the moment that the Hounds had done trying for themselves and felt the want of him. He then galloped straight up to their heads, caught hold of them, and cast them in a body a hundred yards from his front, every Hound busy before him with his nose snuffing the ground, his hackles up, his stern curled over his back, each Hound relying on himself and believing in each other. When cast in this way, the huntsman learns the exact value of each Hound, while the young Hounds learn what old Hounds too believe in and fly to, and when the scent is taken up no Hound is disappointed. When the huntsman trails his Hounds behind him, four-fifths of his best Hounds will be staring at his horse’s tail, doing nothing.
“The Hounds came to have such confidence in Goodall that with a burning scent he would cast them in this way at a hand gallop, all the Hounds in his front making every inch of ground good; while with a poor scent he would do it in a walk, regulating his pace by the quality of the scent; the worse the scent, the more time the Hounds want to puzzle it out.
“On this system, the Hounds are got to the required spot in the very shortest time, with every Hound busily at work, and with his nose tied to the ground.
Foxhunting in England, 1906
“On the opposite vulgar plan, the huntsman galloping off to his Fox, hallooing his Hounds from a distance, his noise drives the Hounds in the first instance to flash wildly in the opposite direction; four or five minutes are lost before the whip can come up and get to their heads, then they are flogged up to their huntsman, the Hounds driving along with their heads up, their eyes staring at their huntsman’s horse’s tail, looking to their huntsman for help, disgusted, and not relying upon themselves, especially the best and most sagacious Hounds.
“A few minutes are lost before the best Hounds will put their noses down and begin to feel for the scent, a second check becomes fatal, and the Fox is irretrievably lost. Often enough, in being whipped up to their huntsman in this way, when crossing the line of the Fox with their heads up, they first catch his wind, and then, as a matter of course, they must take the scent heelways, the Fox as a rule running down the wind. This fatal piece of bungling–so injurious to Hounds–is always entirely owing to the huntsman; it is neither the fault of the whips nor the Hounds; it can never occur when the huntsman moves his Hounds in front with their noses down. …
“Goodall’s chief aim was to get to the hearts of his Hounds. He considered Hounds should be treated like women; that they would not bear to be bullied, to be deceived, or neglected with impunity. For this end, he would not meddle with them in their casts until they had done trying for themselves, and felt the want of him; he paid them the compliment of going to fetch them; he never deceived or neglected them; he was continually cheering and making much of his Hounds; if he was compelled to disappoint them by roughly stopping them off a suckling vixen or dying Fox at dark, you would see him as soon as he had got them stopped, jump off his horse, get into the middle of his pack, and spend ten minutes in making friends with them again. The result was that the Hounds were never happy without him, and when lost would drive up through any crowd of horsemen to get to him again, and it was very rare for a single Hound to be left out.”
Lord Henry Bentinck's Foxhounds, by his son Lord Charles Bentinck

Lord Henry Bentinck's Foxhounds, by his son Lord Charles Bentinck

As Lord Henry Bentinck’s son Charles later wrote in his book Lord Henry Bentinck’s Foxhounds: “A huntsman may never actually make a tactical mistake in the way he draws his coverts, makes his casts, etc., etc., but without sympathy between himself and his hounds he will never make the mythical ‘Heaven Born’ or even a good huntsman.”
You can read more about Lord Henry Bentinck’s thoughts on “Goodall’s practice,” as his letter to Chaplin is often called, online. There are several free copies available on the internet, including a scan of the published booklet at http://www.archive.org/stream/latelordhenryben00lond#page/n0/mode/1up
The full text, including the introduction by Viscount Henry Chaplin, is available (with a few typos, but still very readable) at http://www.archive.org/stream/foxhoundstheirha00bent/foxhoundstheirha00bent_djvu.txt