This year’s Isle of Wight Fox Hounds Puppy Show held at Gatcombe in early June was again a great success and over 150 guests sat in the sunshine, reviewing the fox hound puppies born last year.
The work which Huntsman Stuart Trousdale and his wife Zoe put into the preparation of the kennels and Hounds for this important day is phenomenal. The flowers bordering the freshly mown grass, and the stables and kennels crisp in their new coat of white paint looked stunning.
There are 28 and a half couple (57 hounds) currently kennelled at Gatcombe. Seven and a half couple puppies were on parade plus the best working hound from last year and the best working hound in kennels.
Since the hunting ban, the future of hunting has been in the balance, and Stuart Trousdale is firmly thinking in the future: “David Cameron has pledged to bring in a one line Bill which will repeal the act and it’s looking fairly likely that he’s going to get a crack at it. I think it’s looking as promising now as it ever has. What we are doing now is a stop gap to keep the infrastructure in place until the law changes, which it will.”
But if Labour were to be successful at the next general election, what would that mean for hunting?
“We would keep going as we are, hunting within the law until such time as it is repealed,” he answered resolutely.
One of the two judges at this year’s show, Rory Knight-Bruce from Exeter, the current Horse & Hound Hunting Correspondent said in his address to the guests: “I never need an excuse to come to the Isle of Wight. When the reason is to judge the IW foxhounds I come even more quickly. The importance of hounds to the Island and the farming community cannot be understated and the followers are fantastic, they are hospitable, friendly, courteous and, most importantly, legal.
“The puppy show today, which has gathered so many people here, is a testimony to how much care the Island has for the foxhounds and has done over many centuries. The modern hounds today on the Isle of Wight since the ban are upholding every tradition of their forbears.”
Johan Christofferson, MFH (Master of Fox Hounds) for the Isle of Wight added, “I think the turnout today is fantastic, the kennels and hounds look great and it is a credit to Stuart. It’s also a credit to the subscribers and foot followers of the Isle of Wight Foxhounds.
Mr Christofferson also had his view on the current political situation: “I think the law will change at some point, although not with Mr Brown, and it is important that we focus on getting the law changed. The biggest threat to is not the politics, it’s the changing nature of the countryside, the people that live in it and the urbanisation. As we get more distanced from keeping animals, riding, the wild and wild animals, there is less time and space for days like this and that is why people like us are devoted to keeping it.”
John Harrison, the second judge, flew down from North Yorkshire especially for the event. John began hunting in Dorset and has been in the Hunt service for over 22 years, a period of his life which has taken him all over the world. His view is that everybody has adapted: “I don’t think any hunt has folded or given up. A lot of people got disheartened and we are all going through the motions, hoping and praying the Bill will be overturned. A Conservative government has promised to do it, but quite how remains to be seen. Its maybe just a couple of amendments which let us control the fox population and make it not so draconian so it can please everybody. The foxhounds need to do what they are bred to do. There is no need to lose 250 years of breeding just because of legislation.”
The question in everyone’s minds is: In the current situation, just how long can hunting survive?
John Harrison said: “We can trail hunt forever, as long as there are people that want to ride horses and jump fences, but the quality of the hounds will disappear. We will lose all that. At the end of the day 700 parliamentary hours were spent on this and they did not get it right, a bit like the home-buyers pack I think!
After the judging of the puppies, a proper English tea was provided by Mr Christofferson and his wife Paris. The renovation of the kennels, now complete, was inspected and praised by the visitors, and this year’s spring litters of Barmaid and Pigeon gave everyone a very enthusiastic reception. Thankyou everyone for another great day.
1.Lawless w/b (walked by) Mr. & Mrs. C. Dowden
2.Ferry w/b Mr. J Christofferson
3.Lawyer w/b Mr. J. Butcher
1.Bottle w/b Mr. and Mrs. A King
2. Lavish w/b Mr. L. Thom & Miss C. Cooper
3.Label w/b Mr. J. Butcher
1.Lawyer and Label
2. Landlord and Lawless w/b Mr. & Mrs. C. Dowden
3. Lasher and Fettle w/b Mrs. J. Carder
Best working Hound from 2006 entry was Musket w/b Mr.& Mrs. A King and an extremely popular choice for Best Working Hound in Kennels went to Barmston who was walked by Mrs Jackie Carder.