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!

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3 thoughts on “Houndbloggers Abroad: Peterborough, part two

  1. Pingback: Peterborough foxhound show: The video! | Full Cry: A Hound Blog

  2. Thanks so much for these posts! If I could attend an event like Peterborough … honestly, I’d think that I’d died and gone to heaven. What a show for a hound lover. Those bassets…! Can’t wait for the beagle video.

    • So good to hear from you, Louisa! I’m delighted that you’re enjoying the Peterborough posts, and I’m only sorry it’s taking me so long to post them–I’ve been working on a slower computer that won’t handle video well at all, so that must wait until we’re back home. We do also have some more pictures! I hope you’ll enjoy them. And get thee to P’borough someday to see the hounds for yourself!

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