Lewknor, 28th September 2008
The opening meet of the season at Lewknor was well supported with 31 people turning out and 24 beagles running. Three of these were out for the first time. The weather was kind and the mist overlaying the fields burnt off by about 11.00h to leave a bright, sunny day. This was rather taxing for several of the hounds who had lost condition and stamina over the summer and could be seen plodding back, tongue hanging out after the first few fields.
The Fieldmaster started the beagles off on pasture, all together, one whistle. It was pleasing to see the hounds led in by Tia Bidey back after a spell of injury. Swagger Richmond was in good form and worked soundly.
Once we moved onto plough the beagles became less accurate and more inclined to cut corners. Some, like their owners, decided it was time to catch up with old mates, stand in the middle, have a gossip, then meander back. Veteran workers, Riot, Rowley and Yokel, were steady with Riot only deviating off once into a clump of trees. Pin up girl, Sukie Fernie, had her usual group of male followers. Sukie, a working certificate holder, must be credited with having taught many young beagle dogs to follow aniseed last season and looks set fair to continue this year. Only one beagle (Folly) did a runner towards the woods but she was swiftly retrieved.
Back onto pasture at the end so the scent held better. The land dropped away into a bowl affording an excellent view of the hounds working together as a pack, sweeping round the course with a core coming in as a tightly knit bunch. It equally allowed us to see line layer, John Reymond, being caught up by an over-enthusiastic novice (who set off before the line was complete) struggling to complete the line having picked up said beagle and carried it!
After six fields the Fieldmaster called it quits and everybody repaired to the local pub.
Greens Norton, 12th October 2008
Despite the first meet of the season having to be called off because of water logged land it was nothing of the kind for Court Farm near Towcester. It did seem a very early start as several of the Hounds and Owners had been attending a breed seminar further north up the M1 the previous day and there is always the fear of dense fog for those having early starts on the motorway network.
This turned out to be an excellent morning with the sun shining for the start at 10.45 and basically no wind. The quad bike was there for laying the trails so no one had the unenviable task of laying the aniseed lines across some quite deep ploughed fields which proved just how unfit some of the hounds were especially as the day became warmer.
Twenty-one hounds meant that most of the runs were with the whole pack and with top hound Nelson back from his summer lay-off in neat trim, despite the addition of a new member of the family, who at 12 weeks was making her first appearance, they worked really well and their cries were heard across the valley.
The old stager, Yokel, did take some the across the diagonal on the first leg but there were others like Amber who did their own thing until meeting the pack from the opposite direction! The second stage was on the heavy plough and young Suki in her brilliant pink jacket lead them down across the field until they were out of sight but in a few seconds the pack appeared with Filly giving tongue and newcomer Folly doing really well with a great turn of speed. Some of the more experienced and perhaps older hounds were under Swagger's influence and decided to cut the corners on the heavy plough. Nubie, a new working certificate holder, came into his own on the third run and impressed us all by keeping close to the line and giving tongue and although Zulu, who was out for the first time, came back with the leaders it was probably more to do with his new found mate Swagger than actually following the line himself.
The girls, Suki, Folly and Filly worked together for the next leg and were very impressive whereas the second group stopped for elevenses before returning on the correct line. The next trail was a little kinder on the paws as it was a lovely run down along the grassland at the side of the plough with the autumn foliage behind and the sun shining. It was with great relief that they all appeared from behind the hedge ready for the penultimate run along side the stream. The majority did deviate over the footbridge - perhaps looking to obtain a drink - but came back of their own accord and continued on the line. A short walk up the field and we were able to have one last run on grassland which concluded an excellent meet. No time was spent looking for missing hounds and there were some really promising youngsters who proved to be fit for function.
Our thanks to Dave McSheehy who kept everyone under control and to the farmer without whose support and help with supplying the quad bike and driver, Adam, we couldn't have enjoyed such a wonderful morning with our hounds in the English countryside.
Blewbury - Sunday 26th October 2008
There were 29 people and 19 hounds present for this the third meet of the season and unfortunately – unlike the previous two meets - the sun did not shine; in fact it was a very wet start to the day! Heavy drizzle prevailed for the first two lines before the morning began to dry into a dull but mild day. The lines were run over Kale fields, two harrowed, flinty, sticky fields before a final run on the grass of the gallops.
The Fieldmaster ran all hounds together for the first line on a Kale field. Tia (Bidey) and Nelson (Kingham) followed a true line and came in together well ahead of the remainder – Rowley (Burwood), Yokel (Haylock), Indy (Beaney) and Sukie (Fernie) who also put in good performances. Several others set off well but came straight back to their owners and a couple ran the heel line.
Second Line – also Kale.
Group A - set off first with Nelson, Swagger (Richmond), Rowley, Indy and Hooly (McSheehy) performing well with newcomer Magic (Beaney) coming in on the line despite being off course initially. However, half the group set off but came straight back.
Group B’s run can only be called “chaotic” with only “old-timer” Yokel putting in a good run on the line in his own time. Sukie and Tia ran the line well but in reverse !!!
Third Line – Kale again
Group B – Only Yokel, Dilys (Leighton), Amber (Ambridge) and Sukie put in performances worth mentioning on this line
Group A - Rowley, Indy and newcomer Magic followed the true line with Swagger running well but “cheated” by cutting the corner to join the leaders coming in
Fourth Line – sticky, harrowed field with quite a lot of flint
Group A – Swagger made a strong start but did not run the line as well as Rowley, Merlin (Stannard), Indy and Magic. Nelson showed his usual skill but cut the corner on the return
Group B – Sukie, Tia, Amber, Dilys and Folly (Peach) (all the girls) made a good strong start but only three of them actually followed a true line to the end these being Amber, Dilys and Folly. Yokel also ran the line well in his usual “in my own time” style.
Fifth Line – another sticky, harrowed field with quite a lot of flint
Group B – were all lined up and ready for the whistle and then - to the amusement of everyone - Amber Ambridge headed straight for Kore (who was on his way back in from running the line) grabbed the “drag” and was playing with it ! Sukie and Folly excelled on this line with Diva (Richmond) taking a short cut but returning on the line.
Group A – Swagger, Rowley and Indy made a good strong start covering 2/3rds of the line before stopping, appeared to be trying to pick up the line again and then finally turning and coming back in on the heel line. Nelson set off taking three other hounds with him at a diagonal to the line and then completed by running the heel line alone.
Sixth Line – back to a Kale field
It was discovered that Hooly had managed to cut a front paw and whilst Margaret and Lynne Richmond were treating him Swagger managed to slip his collar and lead and run 2/3rds of the line which was currently being laid on his own!
The Fieldmaster decided to run the whole group together on two whistles. Good performances were seen from Nelson, Folly, Sukie, Amber, Yokel and Swagger who continued his antics and ran the entire line again with the field.
Seventh Line – On Grass – much kinder on the hounds’ feet and a good way to clean up some very muddy paws !
The whole group ran together on this long line laid by Dan Cairns. The wind had increased by this time and it was obvious that the scent was drifting as even the best hounds set off well off line. Most cut across to the return line with Folly actually dashing straight to Dan on his way back in with the drag !
The field master’s comments on this last line was: “Nul points” !
Back at the car park thanks were given to all line layers who did a good job on some heavy ground.
It was apparent that quite a few hounds were finding it quite heavy going but a good day was had by all – despite the lack of sunshine.
The meet ended and several members headed for the pub to finish off a good morning.
Enstone, 23rd November 2008
Having braved snow, driving rain, sleet and low cloud to reach the meet, we were blessed with sunshine and some strong wind. It is a beautiful location with grassed fields and the hounds were able to romp along the soft ground.
The Fieldmaster started the 21 hounds (27 people) in 2 groups for 2 fields, but then decided to run them as a pack all together which proved to be a most successful ploy. Notwithstanding the sticky mud, they ran across the heavy ground with the certificate-holders plus plucky lighter-bitches leading and the rest following. Many of them cut the corner on the third field, but then picked up the aniseed scent and raced back to their proud owners. Riot had obviously found something interesting and resisted the Fieldmaster’s call; his kennel mate, Hoy, on the other hand performed extremely well. On the penultimate field, the pack cut through a hedge, ignoring the line, but all returned safely along a parallel path in the adjacent field. The last field was a joy to watch and all set off well. However, many then followed the heel line and 3 decided that John Haylock’s lure was more interesting than the actual line laid.
It was pleasing to see the newcomers and Charlie especially seemed to be enjoying himself, despite his owner being forced to retire with a back problem. Rowley has benefited from hydrotherapy and managed 3 fields creditably. Merlin also had a good run and seemed to have forgotten his unfortunate seizure on the previous occasion at this farm.
The Fox Inn was being refurbished, so most returned home. Altogether, it was a good outing as the fields are excellent and easy to walk; sometimes viewing of the hounds is difficult as the land is undulating. We were grateful for the weather which was kind to us.
MITCHELDEAN, 30th November 2008
Traveling through heavy rain and mist we were delighted to arrive in Mitcheldean in clear, bright weather.
A small select group of 5 couple of hounds and owners, with two babies and one Trail hound set forth.
The first drag was laid by a land rover and all hounds let off, including the trail hound, Lotti who rapidly overtook the beagles who were spurred on by the speedy intruder.
For the second line we crossed the road to the Banks with steep sloping grass fields all in very good condition.
The three workers Nelson, Yokel and Rowley all worked exceptionally well, setting an excellent example for the novice hounds who responded well. Even Angel, Fern and Hooly joined in and followed the line. Amber did well except when she spied the returning drag and just had to grab it!
They worked as a pack with Nelson giving tongue to encourage them.
Eventually after several fields every hound was going round completing the line - a magnificent sight.
We were all reminded what a wonderful venue this is for a meet.
On the last but one line Lotti was invited to join in again and led the three workers around twice - at top speed!
After a very successful afternoon everyone retired as darkness fell to Peter and Barbara Roderick's for a delicious tea, to warm up and talk to her two gorgeous puppies.
Luddesdowne – 11th January 2009
Saturday dawned cold, crisp and with hoar frost so thick it looked like snow. Kent looked, amazing until you opened the door and realised that the mercury was hiding down at minus 5 and that was at 10.30 when I set off to join the Bolebroke pack south of Maidstone. Seldom has a day out in the field been so beautiful with every branch and blade of grass encased in its white icy shell and the ground a crunchy ‘concrete’, but the poor frustrated pack hounds just couldn’t pick up a scent at all. Hi-ho tomorrow with the Working Section is going to be difficult day!
Sunday dawned bright sunny and the thermometer was already up at 7 above zero and it was only 7 am – what a contrast! The hoar frost had gone, that crunchy feel under foot had turned to squelch and the snow that had remained thick for a week, up in Sole Street, was thawing fast – at least our hounds will be able to work a trail today and so it proved.
Down to the Cock Inn to find the intrepid explorers had ‘Sat Nav'd’ their way to our little gem of a CAMRA pub, the doors opened promptly at noon and rapidly everybody was into warming by one of the roaring fires (working on the storage heater principle?), tucking into baguettes as solid fuel or the odd dram/real ale pint or two as antifreeze for the blood?
A quick if stiff walk up to the first field revealed that the wind had freshened and was really quite lively up on the exposed fields. The Bolebroke followers had joined us in numbers and Mark, the Master, volunteered his sons to lay the first trail. Dave decided that as the hounds had nearly six weeks lay off over the Christmas holidays a good vigorous run as a full pack would be an excellent start to the day. Workers away first, with the rest of the pack on the second whistle gave us all hope as they were really pretty well on the trail – well about 5 meters NE of the line as the wind had carried it quite a distance over the plough.
Line two was a surprise as the scent had carried back to the return leg of the first line and even some of the workers were off onto the heel line of the previous trail. But, they realised the error of their ways and turned, bridged the gap to the second line and completed well as a pack. The third line was laid much further into the field and it was good to see worker Buster out for the first time this season and in good form.
On to set-aside and the cross country jumps, plenty of opportunity for John to lay a more complicated trail, dropping down into the shelter of the next valley and into the still frozen icy snow from a week back. This, and the distraction of plenty of signs of rabbits didn’t cause many problems and both Groups worked well.
Unfortunately Mark and his boys had to leave us to look after their horses before dusk and Dave had the unenviable task of laying a trial up the steepest part of the Luddesdowne Valley, a good test of stamina for the hounds (and Dave?). Both groups of workers and novices were improving on each line and Maria, one of the Bolebroke Joint Masters, commented how much better they were getting with the practice of working as a pack.
So on to the last line a vast field run by Kore with Nelson straining on the lead to be after him, Swagger managed to slip his lead and set off well in pursuit but lost the line before the pack working together for the last line were whistled away. The plough almost did for our runner and it showed the stamina of the hounds as the stragglers trotted home but there was Nubie who ran the whole of that final line, spot on and all on its own. There were some very tired hounds that night!
The last lines were run in the fields adjacent to Lucy French’s farm house and although she had been with us at the Cock Inn and on the first lines, she had retreated to the warmth of her home (how wise!), but did I detect her watching from the upstairs windows?
The sun was sinking fast and time to depart the mile or so to Chez Sally and John for a welcome repast of tea, chilli con carne or pasta and salad plus cakes not to mention scrumptious meringues (don’t worry the carpet has recovered!) – the spirit of Middleton is alive and well just transported to Kent in a picturesque hidden corner of the North Downs.
Joint Master, Mark Thomas, of the Bolebroke thanked us all for a very enjoyable afternoon and commented “It was different but great fun and I was amazed at the drive and enthusiasm shown by the beagles – it shows it takes quite a lot to suppress the ‘hunting’ gene!!! They all seemed to enjoy themselves greatly.” Maria Gregory, remarked how noticeable it was that by the last line how much they had improved as a group and that the “workers” were working as a pack – losing the scent, casting, giving tongue and coming back together to continue.
A good day enjoyed by all.
John Reymond & Sally Kimber (plus David)
Lenborough 18th January 2009
After a night of hideous weather, gale force winds and rain like stair rods, everybody heaved a sigh of relief when the sun came out for the drag hosted by Phillip Kennedy and the Stowe Beagles. We were accompanied by a trio of students who kindly ran the lines for us and 'whipped in' any wandering hounds.
A 'pack' of 19 hounds set off in 10 different directions on the first line, showed up by 'Dilys' Leighton who set off like a bullet up the heel line but at least she had aniseed in her nose!
On the subsequent fields the hounds were split into two groups both led by a couple of workers, in the case of 'Tia' Bidey and 'Rowley' Burwood very diligently. The strong wind proved to fool many of the hounds by drifting the scent, and on most of the lines the majority of them set off on the heel line, although 'Fern' Bather managed to turn the others back onto the correct track on one of the later fields.
The grassland had drained well after the overnight drenching and gave a good going, taken advantage of by newcomers 'Skye' Precey and 'Marley' Bygrave, but this did not stop every dog coming back liberally splattered with mud.
With all the hounds running together again on the penultimate field, 'Filly' and 'Buster' Forbes and 'Folly' and 'Zulu' Peach set off at speed on the line but decided to have a meeting half way round as they had done so well, before continuing.
For the last field all the hounds ran together again and were gamely lead in by 'Indy' Beaney, but 'Vodka' Dent took the easy option and went straight to her owner who had run the line.
After thanking our host for a wonderful days dragging, a few of us repaired to The Crown in Gawcott to partake of a welcome drink and meal.
FLAMSTEAD - 1ST FEBRUARY 2009
It was a bitterly cold, bright morning for the meet at Flamstead where approximately 23 members congregated with 17 hounds. Wearing several layers of clothing to ward off the icy wind (and the snow flurries) everyone was eager to “get under way” as were the hounds!
With more than 50% working certificate holders out at this meet Dave decided to run most lines as one group. Nelson (Kingham), Sukie (Ferney), Yokel (Haylock), Riot (McSheehy), Rowley (Burwood), Trigger (Ambridge), Buster (Forbes), Tia (Bidey), Nubie (Lehain) and Darla (Weich) made up the workers and all showed their abilities throughout the morning on some good but frosty ground. Sukie, resplendent as usual in her pink coat, soon showed she was back on form after her short break. It was good to see Carey Weich and Steve with their little daughter, Scarlett, out for the first time in a long while with Darla showing that she was back on form and had not forgotten what she is supposed to do even though she missed most of last season and all of this season until today.
Hounds ran consistently well on most lines with the workers leading the way. Although the lines were laid on good ground there were some tricky water-logged areas for members to negotiate between fields! Doreen Haylock efficiently acted as whipper-in on a couple of lines where it was felt to be necessary.
As the morning progressed Dave decided to divide the workers and novices into two groups with “workers” only running one line. This was followed by the last line of the day being run by just the “novices” to see how they would cope without any workers to lead the way. The novice group included Folly and Zulu (Peach), Skye (Precey). Amber (Ambridge) and Jenny Forbes’ 2 novices Filly and Pickel. With the Trials pending in just over a month everyone was interested to see the outcome of this particular line.
Suffice it to say that Folly (Peach) was the star of the novice line being the only hound to complete the line and she did so with accuracy and totally on her own! She certainly showed how a line should be run in all respects.
After a most enjoyable morning a few members headed for the pub for lunch/drinks (and to warm their hands and feet) before heading homewards – with the intention of getting safely home before the forecasted snow storms caused any travel problems.
Langford Farm, Greens Norton - 22nd February 2009
What a difference a few weeks makes ! At Flamstead we endured a bitterly cold but bright, sunny day which was most enjoyable providing we were wearing several layers of clothing and warm hats / gloves! Here we are just three weeks later (after the disappointment of the Stowe School meet having to be cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions of heavy snow which affected large parts of the UK) on a very mild (at least 10 degrees warmer), bright morning with very little wind with a smallish group of members gathered ready for the second meet of the season at Greens Norton.
The group of 17 member (plus 2 babies) and 12 participating beagles were eager for the first line of the day. Always a pleasure to see Adam (the quad biker) who efficiently lays the lines for us so giving our regular volunteer line layers a welcome week off. Adam informed us that over the last few days the fields had been drying out well due largely to a dry and mild week with plenty of sunshine, so although many of us thought it would be heavy going for our hounds it was, infact, not.
Kore Antonsen was acting as stand-in Fieldmaster as Dave McSheehy had to attend a Beagle Club Committee Meeting as did a few other members. Unfortunately, an accident on the M25 which closed the motorway prevented a few confirmed attendees from reaching the venue so in total there were 6 workers and 6 novices out today.
Kore decided to start the first line with all hounds together on one whistle so allowing them all to “let off steam” with a view to them settling on later lines. Merlin (Stannard) made an early escape before the whistle was blown but was swiftly followed on the whistle and on the line by Nelson (Kingham) and Tia (Bidey). Angel (Stannard) decided that a good roll in the loose hay surrounding a feed trough was a much better idea than running a line as is proven by the photos which will be available soon on Ian Bidey’s usual website !
Lines 2, 3 and 4 were all run as one group though some were run on two whistles with workers Sukie (Ferney), Rowley (Burwood), Trigger (Ambridge), Tia setting off well on line 2 along with novices Folly (Peach) and Merlin (Stannard). All worked the line accurately along with Yokel (Haylock) in his usual “in my own time” steadfast way. Nelson and Amber (Ambridge) decided to be “clever” and cut across to join the line further along but both came in on the line. Vodka (Dent) provided amusement before this line was run by finding and consuming a rabbit’s leg ! On line3 only Sukie, Yokel and Tia completed the line accurately by running correctly down the right hand side of the pond / shed and crossing into the next field where the line had been laid. Amber was also working the line well until she spied the quad bike and lure whereby she headed straight for it. Line 4 was run well by the majority of hounds however Nelson who had cut the corner initially but came in on line decided he would run the whole line again accurately from start to finish “to show how it should be done” - at this point Tia’s owner was busy making notes and totally forgot to catch her hound whereby Tia took it upon herself to diligently run the line a second time to keep Nelson company!
Kore made the decision to divide the 12 hounds into two groups from this point onwards with 3 workers and 3 novices in each group.
Group A – Workers – Nelson, Trigger, Tia ) ran lines 5, 7, 9, 11
Novices – Folly, Amber, Vodka ) and 13
Group B - Workers – Yokel, Rowley, Sukie ) ran lines 6, 8, 10, 12
Novices – Merlin, Magic, Dilys ) and 14
As we had the use of the quad bike driven by a willing Adam, plenty of fairly dry fields to use and only a small number hounds it was decided to take advantage of these facilities to see how well hounds would work on a fresh line each time rather than the usual two groups alternating on a line – it was an interesting result as the majority of hounds worked consistently well on all subsequent lines!
On the whole the majority of the workers showed their skills consistently for the remainder of the day. Novices Folly and Merlin plainly showed their abilities throughout the day so giving their owners high hopes for the forthcoming Trials. Adam laid some slightly more complex lines with a circle deviating from the line for Group A - which none of the hounds mastered and a line laid under trees for Group B which some of the hounds did manage to negotiate very well. Dilys and Amber distracted each other on several lines finding “playtime” much more fun than the serious business of following the drag. It was good to see that Dilys showed more interest in participating on some lines today – an improvement on the last time out for her. Amber also showed she knows exactly what to do when not distracted by the return of the lure or other hounds. After a total of 16 lines, the latter two being run as a whole group, there were some very tired hounds.
A group photo with members and hounds gathered around Adam and his quad bike ended the morning off and our sincere thanks were expressed to both Adam for his time and his excellent line laying and to Kore for very efficiently standing in for Dave today. A very good morning enjoyed by all.
A few members headed for the local pub for lunch / drinks before setting off for home – all appear to be looking forward to the Blewbury meet in two weeks time, the final meet before the annual end of season Trials, doesn’t time fly!
with many thanks to those who helped me take notes for this write-up
Report on the Beagle Club Working Trials 2009
The Working Section held its end of year Trials in the Meon Valley, Hampshire, under the eagle eyes of judges David Brown (Christchurch & Fairley Hill Beagles) and Gary Irwin (Old Berkeley beagles). The two kennel huntsmen were assisted by Mike Denny and myself as stewards.
Judges, stewards and Fieldmaster arrived at the venue after the pub lunch to find the 22 entrants (and owners!) milling around, the hounds dressed in their distinguishing coats, raring to go. The beagles were running in 4 groups identifiable only to the judges by the colour of the coat they wear.
The first line laid was a non scoring line so all hounds present, including those “not for competition” had a chance to let off steam, then it was down to the serious business of the day.
Beagles get one point per line for each of setting off strongly, giving tongue, sticking to the line & being free from riot with up to two bonus points per line at the judges’ discretion for demonstrating leadership or consistently good work. Each hound gets the opportunity to run 4 lines, twice first on the field with the fresh scent and twice second on the field so the scent could be disturbed by the passage of the first cohort.
Chief Line Layer, John Reymond, organised his team superbly so that the lines laid increased in complexity. The first run for each group was a simple rectangle. This progressed to a rectangle with indents and dog legs and to the line layer picking up the lure for some 30 metres so the hounds had to cast around to pick up the trial.
The star of the day was Cairns and Peach’s Barrvale Folly who swept the board by winning Best Newcomer, Best Novice, Best Bitch and Best Working Hound overall, emulating the feat of the welfare hound Admiral Lord Nelson in his first season out. Kingham’s Admiral Lord Nelson still kept his end up by being Reserve Best Hound, Best Dog Hound and Best Veteran this year.
In addition to these two top hounds working certificates were also awarded to:
• Ambridge’s Trigger at Sunrise
• Bidey’s Lucky Ellie Belle
• Fernie’s Kybo Touchy
• Forbes’ Kentoast Napoleon
• Haylock’s Enchace Yokel
• Lehain’s Nictoney Octavious
• McSheehy’s Machavos Rioter
The Enchace Talismark memorial trophy (Fieldmaster’s discretion) was awarded to Stannard’s Redcap Black Knight.
Theresa M Chapman
You can see Ian Bidey's photos of the Trials here - www.ian-bidey.magix.net
Trophies awarded click here