Houndbloggers Abroad: Peterborough, part two

To read Part One, click here.

To see the modern foxhound results from the show, click here.

To see Old English foxhound results, click here.

Old English hounds leave the ring at Peterborough

AS the houndbloggers roved from ring to ring at England’s Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show, we were reminded of the great variety to be found among working hounds. We were looking at hounds for our own enjoyment, of course, but for the huntsmen and Masters on hand for this most famous of hound shows, spotting quality working hounds is very serious business. The show ring, of course, only tells part of the story; the real proof comes on the hunt field.

Awaiting a harrier class at Peterborough's indoor arena

Some hounds get an early green llight for breeding. After the Heythrop Hunt‘s Mellow ’10 won the bitch championship over North Cotswold‘s Bobtail ’10, Heythrop joint-MFH Richard Sumner delightedly proclaimed that her showing days are over. “She’ll be having babies next,” he told Horse & Hound. Mellow left the show ring with a bundle of laurels: she starting winning at home in the Heythrop’s puppy show, then took top unentered bitch honors at Peterborough last season. This year, she swept bitch titles at the South of England and Great Yorkshire hound shows before arriving at Peterborough to win again.

The bassets–along with the beagles, bloodhounds, harriers, and draghounds–also showed in the indoor arena.

The ST Carlow line

Thoughts of hound breeding prompted the houndbloggers to ask North Cotswold joint-MFH and huntsman Nigel Peel about a bloodline that has contributed to our own pack at Iroquois, the famed ST line from Ireland’s Carlow Hunt. The bloodline was famously difficult to import from the Emerald Isle, thanks to the formidable hound breeder and keeper of the ST flame, Olive Hall, who made Irish hunts pledge not to export any of the hounds she gave them.

Otter and mink hounds: the woolliest of the woolly!

But the bloodline eventually made its way to England when Capt. Brian Fanshawe was able to import a couple of puppies out of Carlow Stylish ’63 to the Warwickshire. He eventually brought the line to both the North Cotswold and the Cottesmore, where he also was Master and huntsman, and it is from those two hunts that the Iroquois Hunt got its ST lines.

Describing the STs, Fanshawe once said, “They are terribly easy to handle, nearly like pet dogs. They need plenty of hunting, but they are biddable, and they have what Sir Peter Farquhar called ‘fox sense.'”

Some spectators

As current MFH and huntsman at the North Cotswold, Nigel Peel has had great experience with the ST line, whose descendants include the hunt’s great Peterborough bitch champion Grapefruit, dam of our excellent late stallion hound Grundy ’98. Ringside in the main foxhound arena, we asked Peel about the ST line, whose descendants were among North Cotswold hounds showing at Peterborough this year.

“Two of the hounds in our winning two couple class today go back to the ST line,” he said. “There are lines that I think have drive, and they have great drive. And they live for a long time and go on hunting into old age. They don’t collapse, and they tend to have good feet.”

... which proved too hard to resist for one of the houndbloggers! Two new pairs of breeches and Daphne Goodall Machin's excellent biography of huntsmen Stephen and Will Goodall helped our luggage go overweight on the way home!

Cottesmore huntsman Neil Coleman, like Peel a great friend to the Iroquois Hunt, also had praise for the ST line in an issue of The Field we picked up a few days after the Peterborough show. In it, a group of huntsmen were asked to nominate their “heroic foxhounds,” and Coleman elected two, both hailing from the ST line. As his hero of the past, he elected a woolly, Farmer ’92. Coleman echoed Peel’s observation about ST hounds’ longevity when he pointed out that Farmer hunted into his 10th season.

For his present-day hero–or, rather, heroine–Coleman crowned Farmer’s great-great-great-granddaughter, Cottesmore Stodgy ’05. “She could hunt six days a week and never tire,” he told The Field in its August 2011 issue. “If I were a fox in a hundred-acre field, I wouldn’t want her behind me. The great legacy for me from Captain Fanshawe is the Carlow blood and the North Cotswold ST line. They are always happy and always want to please.”

North Cotswold's Best Brood Bitch, Caroline '08, on the left

Speaking of Neil Coleman, the houndbloggers’ only disappointment at Peterborough was missing the chance to see the Cottesmore hounds show. A few of the hounds were coughing at home, which prevented them from making the trip. They were not alone in this inconvenience: seven hunts missed Peterborough this year due to some degree of coughing.

Big on beagles

There was no problem with numbers in the beagle ring. This year, Peterborough drew 20 packs–a cheering thought if it can be taken as evidence that beagling is prospering in England after the 2005 hunting ban.

It is a sad fact that the houndbloggers did not manage to get a single decent photograph of the beagles! But we did get some video, which we plan to have ready next week. We admit that some of our best video clips were of an amazingly fast and gymnastic rubber ball of a beagle named Pilgrim, who stole our hearts but did not manage to win a ribbon. “Speed and bounce,” apparently, were not uppermost in the beagle judges’ criteria. Neither were “adorable” and “what wonderful spots.” Ours is not to reason why, I suppose.

The foxhounds met up with friends and fans outside Peterborough's show rings

So stay tuned! Next week’s video will include scenes from the beagle, basset, bloodhound, otter and mink hound, AND both the modern and Old English foxhound rings.

Keep your eye on the hound blog next week for our video from Peterborough!

Houndbloggers Abroad: Peterborough, part one

To see the show’s modern foxhound results, click here.

To see the Old English foxhound results, click here.

THEY call summer hound shows the “silly season,” and certainly it is not really the same thing as hunt season. Working pack hounds are bred for the hunt field, not the show ring, after all. But, all the same, showing at the Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show is serious business for competitors, and the show offers Masters and huntsmen a great chance to look over potential stallion hounds and examine other hunts’ bloodlines. For the houndbloggers, the 2011 show was the perfect opportunity to see the hound world’s great variety, to eyeball some of the sport’s most prestigious pack members, and to spot some hounds from bloodlines that link with our own Iroquois pack.

A glimpse of Driver’s father

Perhaps the most notable “Iroquois relation” we saw was the Duke of Beaufort’s Gaddesby ’07, sire of our own young dog Driver ’10. We spotted Gaddesby in the Best Stallion Hound class, where, alas, he was unplaced. But we did manage to get a couple of quick snapshots.

Gaddesby '07 in the stallion hound class.

Gaddesby ’07 on the move.

Spot any similarities? Here’s Gaddesby’s son Driver:

Driver after a hunt in March.

Gaddesby’s conqueror in the Stallion Hound class was Duke of Beaufort’s Doynton ’09, who went on to win the Champion Dog Hound title over the Vale of the White Horse’s young dog Ptarmigan ’10.
Peel’s words of wisdom

The Grove and Rufford prepare to enter the ring at Peterborough on July 20. Their dog Stafford, right, won the Best Unentered Dog class.

In the issue of Horse and Hound that came out immediately before the Peterborough show, North Cotswold Master and huntsman Nigel Peel wrote, “Hound shows are wonderful summer gatherings, and it is a great joy to admire the best lookers of the breed. But remember that that is what it is–a beauty competition. Do not get downhearted should your hounds fail to find favor. Remember that you are taking part in a pageant and in so doing you are holding your hunt’s flag high for all to see. … We all get slung out of the ring from time to time, and sometimes it is quite hard to remember that it is the taking part and not the winning that counts.”

Huntsmen wore their prizes on their sleeves.

At Peterborough, as it happened, Peel’s hounds rarely were “slung out of the ring.” The North Cotswold bitches, in particular, had a fantastic day. Bobbin ’10, Bobtail ’10, Gradient ’10, and Gridiron ’10 won the Best Two Couple of Entered Bitches class, while Caroline ’08 was judged Best Brood Bitch. Bobtail went on to finish second, as reserve champion, to Heythrop Mellow ’10 in the Champion Bitch class.

The North Cotswold dog hounds fared well, too, taking the Best Couple of Unentered Hounds class with Gregory and Growler.

The crowd in Peterborough’s main arena, where the modern foxhounds were exhibited.

Remembering the Great Grundy

Having met up with him at the foxhound ring, we took the opportunity to ask Peel about some of the hounds he has sent to Iroquois–most notably our late, great stallion hound and superb coyote hunter Grundy ’98, who died in 2008.

Grundy in October 2006 with Iroquois joint-Master Jerry Miller

 Grundy was a son of the North Cotswold’s Peterborough winner Grapefruit, and Peel’s reminiscences of Grundy went back another generation, starting with Grapefruit’s own mother.
“Her mother was a very, very good bitch, a wonderful hunter, and Grapefruit we were very lucky with, because she was walked by Charlie Warren, a great North Cotswold puppy walker,” recalled Peel. “He actually had driven the first tank onto the battlefield at Alamein. We had a lovely hound that he had walked the year before that we had won a lot of prizes with, but, sadly, she was poisoned out hunting. Charlie said, ‘I think I’ve got one that might be as good.’ And, by God, he had: that was Grapefruit.
“In her first year here at Peterborough, she won the Best Unentered Bitch, and the following year she won the championship. She was a terrific hunter, like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord, and hated foxes. So we thought we must find her a really good husband. In those days, Tim Unwin was Master of the Cotswold and a very, very fine breeder of hounds and a good huntsman. We used his dog Patron, a gray dog, I remember. That produced Grundy.”

Peterborough isn't only about foxhounds. The show also featured woolly mink and otter hounds (see above), mournful bassets, beautiful beagles, handsome harriers, and lashings of lurchers!

What made Patron the right choice for Grapefruit?
“He was a lovely-looking dog, and he had terrific quality,” Peel said. “He just struck me as being a very good sort of stallion hound to use. And the breeding linked. I always line-breed our hounds, and the breeding fitted in beautifully. So we thought he was the one to have.
“Jerry Miller wanted a dog hound, and we called this whelp Grundy because, when Iroquois was formed, it was named after a horse that won the Derby.

Old English hounds exit the ring after a class at Peterborough.

“Grundy was walked by Charlie Warren, and our chairman at the time was Tim Holland-Martin, who had bred the horse Grundy, who had also won the Derby,” added Peel. “So that’s why we called the hound Grundy, because we thought that it was appropriate. Grundy came to you principally because Jerry Miller wanted a hound or two, and it’s rather difficult to refuse Jerry Miller!”

Peterborough show officials in the foxhound ring.

Peel later saw the hound Grundy in Kentucky, and he was pleased with how he had developed.
“I thought what a very good one he was,” Peel said. “His sisters we had, and we bred from those and we’ve got hounds that go back to them today here at Peterborough.
“I’m really pleased that Grundy did so well, not only in the showing, but also that he was a really first-class dog in his work.”
There’s more to come from our Peterborough report! Stay tuned for more pictures, some video, and more from Nigel Peel.

A few horses, one hound, and high hopes for Peterborough

Photo by Dave Traxler.

ONCE AGAIN, the houndbloggers are going to the dogs. If all goes well, the houndbloggers hope to bring you some pictures from the Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show on July 20. Stay tuned!

For an earlier post we did on the 2009 show, click here.

And if we don’t make it there, well … I guess we’ll have to write about something else!

In the meantime, we’d like to turn to the horsey side of hunting for a moment and give you two videos we found this week that provide an interesting point of view on riding–something near and dear to most foxhunters’ hearts. The first is a “helmet cam” video from a point-to-point jockey who gets involved in a very exciting finish!

And the other, also a helmet cam video, provides a horseback tour through the country around Rhosgadfan in Wales, where much of the hunting is on foot and many of the hounds are woolly!

Speaking of Wales, and returning to hounds for a moment, Wales is home to the sad legend of the faithful hound Gelert. This hound, the tale goes, was wrongly killed by his master, who, realizing his mistake, was said never to have smiled again.There’s a monument to the hound and his legend in Beddgelert, not very far from Snowdonia, where, hunting on foot with the astonishing Eryri Hunt, I lasted a grand total of about 47 minutes before nearly passing out from exhaustion, and with torn jeans to boot! Once a harrier pack, the pack now chases only fox and was registered with the MFHA in England in 1976. If you’re ever feeling fit, visit them. The scenery is spectacular, and so is the hunting!

What we’ve been doing this summer