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First trail-hunting trials day celebrated finest observe and hounds’ music

  • THE first British Hound Sports Association (BHSA) Trail-Hunting Hound Trials was not only “a showcase of best practice” but also demonstrating the quality of hunting’s governance.

    Three hunts took part in the competition, held in Gloucestershire on 30 October, to show their hounds’ skills in following a laid trail. Some 300 people gathered as the packs, each of which was given an area of land an an hour to lay a trail, went into action.

    Matt Ramsden, joint-master and huntsman of the Duke of Beaufort’s, and Philip Hague, professional huntsman of the VWH, were mounted to judge the Cheshire Forest, hunted by Tom Wright, the East Essex under huntsman Gary Thorpe and the Crawley and Horsham, hunted by joint-master and huntsman Richard Gurney. The packs were judged on accuracy, voice, drive, cohesion and casting.

    First prize went to the Cheshire Forest.

    “All three packs were put under quite difficult conditions today in that they were all hunting on ‘Cotswold brash’, and arable brash at that, which their hounds would not be used to,” Mr Ramsden said. “Add into that a lot of wind, and under those conditions the Cheshire Forest kept themselves up together, made some lovely hound music and cast themselves beautifully, and as a result of that stuck to their trail very well indeed.”

    Each pack used a different scent mixture and a different way of laying the trail; a runner, a quad bike and a combination of both.

    Mr Thorpe said: “We introduce the young hounds to trails over the summer. I couldn’t be more pleased with how they hunted a fresh country today.”

    BHSA managing director Oliver Hughes told H&H: “It seems to me really important the hunting community comes up with proactive ideas to demonstrate that trail-hunting is a well regulated, well managed, fun, healthy activity.”

    He added: “This is a showcase of best practice in modern hunting. Coming from a professional polo background [he was formerly deputy chief executive of the Hurlingham Polo Association], I see it as a logical progression to introduce a competitive element for hunts to demonstrate skills and techniques as well as types of hounds and different scents.

    “Today has been a great success and a fun day out. I hope that this can be used as a template for future events to build on and we will see this will become one of several annual events across the country. Hunts compete against each other at the hound shows each summer, and now we can establish a new tradition of competition that demonstrates the wonderful abilities for which our hounds have been so carefully bred for hundreds of years.”

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