Sunday, 14th January 2018
We were glad to welcome Mervyn and the ever popular quad bike as he kindly offered to lay the lines for us. This meant there was less waiting and we were able to fit in a couple of extra ‘bonus’ lines in for the 3 groups of beagles out with us today. Thanks also go to the whippers in, particularly David and Diana Brown who came as a spectators and ended up 'working'!
We were extremely lucky with the weather, being mild and overcast with little wind. Ideal weather for dragging. The fields used consisted of flat grazing land with short cropped grass, giving everyone a good view as the hounds ran the lines. Again the drag used was a pilchard and tomato sauce mix which appears to be a popular choice as the hounds had no problems following the scent whether the first or the last group out.
There was a good turnout of 16 dogs split into 3 groups . All hounds were raring to go, excited and noisy. The first 2 lines saw most of the hounds getting into their stride. By the third line the group containing Izzy Ambridge (our worker), Rufus McBain, Nancy Precey and Norman Green came into their own and they ran an almost perfect line finishing together. This set the pattern for this group for the rest of the meet. The other two groups put in some good performances also. Particularly worthy of note were Rosie McDonald who, although one of our older hounds, was regularly on the scent and completing the line in her own time and Barney McBain who put in a number of consistent performances, often on his own whilst others in his group were distracted by other more interesting things. Our newcomer Pepper Nunn is also showing great promise and clearly understands what is expected of her.
By the 7th line some of the hounds were tiring so we called it a day. The consensus was that we are seeing a consistent improvement in the pack as a whole. Many of the hounds now understand what is expected of them and are improving with every meet this season. We are all looking forward to what they will be like next time out.
At the end of the meet, the group held a minutes silence for Donald Forbes who sadly passed away recently. He had been a great supporter of the group for many years. Even the hounds remained silent for a short time for our contemplation and prayers.
Sunday, 31st December 2017
We held our second meet of the season at Ashmere Farm in Kent on 31st December 2017 with the kind permission of Mrs French and the Bolebrook Beagles. There were 6 beagles needing assessment, all of which passed. There was a nice tea of savouries and sweets to tempt us before we headed off to the first field
The weather was dry, but the ground was a little damp due rain in the morning & the days prior. Regulars will know that this is arable land and the need for wellies is a must.
There were 2 groups today. Whipping in was John Raymond & Helen Porbert’s friend Isabelle.
Izzie Ambridge took lead of group A showing her consistency is always. Also in group A was Pepper Nunn & Nancy Precey, both new starters for this season but already showing a few of the regulars the way things should be done.
Line 3 saw the scent wavering off with most of the groups losing the scent before the first corner. A few tried to pick it back up, some more successful than others.
It was great to see Celeste Kimber out in the field with a kennel mate Coda. They were a bit over excited at times and made an early return on some lines full of joy with their run. Bert Green stood in the middle of the field stationary during the 4th line but then came back.
Sybil Precey wearing a black coat seemed to take the lead in group B trying to get the rest of the group going.
At the end of the fourth line the weather changed and the heavens opened. We started the 5th line slightly damper and one dog knew an easier way to get the drag, Barney McBain ran straight to box containing the drag followed by myself and John Precey in hot pursuit.
Nancy Precey took the heel line on the 5th then proceeded to come back and spurred off to have a go the correct way.
The last line of the day has a lovely view over a valley in which the line drops slightly out of view. Each group seemed to have lost the way on this line with only a handful completing it. The walk back to the cars gave us time to clear the mud from our boots and work up an appetite for round 2 of drinks and nibbles.
In writing this report with have learnt of the sad news of the passing of Donald Forbes, Jenny’s Dad. Our thoughts are with Jenny, Tessa and family during this difficult time.
Saturday, 16th December 2017
The Working Section of the Beagle Club held its first meet of the new season at Slough House, Bulpham, Essex by kind permission of Ed Ford and the Childerditch Farms.
The weather was kind to us, the land was not waterlogged by recent snowfall and we had bright sunshine for most of the day. We had 6 good sized runs with two groups of hounds taking on the task at hand. Sadly, we were missing our Field Master David McSheehy who is recuperating after some major surgery and Jenny Forbes, we hope they are both able to join us on forthcoming meets.
We have all at one time or another been out for a walk with our hounds where the appeal of an animal scent, predominantly deer or fox, has driven them to complete overdrive and we are left abandoned eagerly awaiting their immediate return; we never seem to learn! So, both John Precey and myself attended a scent course earlier in the year to evaluate whether we can influence the quality of the drag with a better understanding of which scent would be best. On this the first occasion we decided to try the experimental scent of Pilchards in tomato sauce and it proved to be quite successful, it certainly held the interest of the hounds. Several of the hounds were lucky enough to get to eat the Pilchards at the end of the day as neither John Precey or myself wanted to drive home with a smelly bag of fish in the car!
We were joined by three newcomers Pepper Nunn, Samson Reilly and Nancy Precey and we also managed to persuade Chris Reilly to whip in. Many thanks to her.
Izzy Ambridge, our only worker for this year, put in a stellar performance along with Honey Brownlow and the occasional performance from Sybil Precey, even with her preference of the heel line. Two of our newcomers Pepper Nunn and Nancy Precey also showed good potential, Nancy even giving tongue towards the end of the day. The very welcomed return of Celeste Kimber to the field; she showed some promise especially a couple of lines in along with Amber Ambridge. Rosie McDonald put in a good performance for the first line and then decided she needed to rest before coming to life again for the last line. As an older hound, her enthusiasm to keep up was commendable and always came back with what seemed like a smile on her face. Samson Reilly is taking after my hounds and just wants to find his dad. After 6 decent sized lines, the weather was just starting to change and the wind pick up bringing with it a cooler air, we decided it was a good time to stop. Back at the car park, discussing Pepper Nunns performance, Margaret mentioned the training she and Pepper had been putting in before the meet and it is clear how much this has prepared Pepper and her initial ability to follow the drag; something to consider if we want to prepared and train our hounds for future drag meets.
All in all, it was a very positive start to the new season and I hope we can continue to improve throughout the year. Our next meet is on 31/12/2017 at Meopham, Kent.
Sunday, 12th March 2017
For the final meet of the season The Working Section of The Beagle Club held their trials at Langford Farm, Greens Norton by the kind invitation of Richard Jefferies on 12th March 2017. This was somewhat of a milestone as it was the first proper trials since 2010 and we had a past Field Master, Mike Denny, to judge our beagles. For the first time, we had the opportunity to award both Working Certificates to any top performing hounds and also Awards of Working Merit for those beagles that are showing promise but are not showing enough consistency to have a Certificate.
For this meet we had Mervyn and his quad bike to lay the lines on the grassland so the owners could concentrate on their hounds and we were able spend less time waiting between runs. There was a good turnout of 21 beagles split into 3 groups and we were lucky with the weather as the light rain soon stopped and there was a mild breeze.
When there are 3 groups running on each line it becomes more difficult to hold the scent so with 6 fields at our disposal each group had the chance to run on a fresh scent twice. This helped to show the strong hounds as they generally were still able to show the way while the others in the group would mill around at the start when in the group running last on the line. The groups are made up with each one having a promising hound to show the way to the others and the aim to make it easy to identify each of the beagles so the runs can be scored. For the final 7th line the 5 best hounds were chosen to run a more complicated line and it was lovely to see this final group run true to the scent round a ‘dog leg’ and through water giving tongue the whole way.
Once all the lines had been completed the members retired to the Greens Norton Village Hall. Whilst the scores from the day were added together there was a heavily laden tea table with items donated by the members. Before the prize giving we held a minute silence in honour of Sally Parker who recently passed away. Sally was the wife of former Field Master, Alistair Parker, and she was a keen follower of the Working Section. It was a proud moment to be able to award a Working Certificate to Izzie Ambridge who had worked so well throughout the morning. We were also able to give 4 Awards of Working Merit to Sybil Precey, Rufus McBain, Cannie McSheehy and Coda Kimber. The trophies and their winners are listed below. After being presented with a couple of bottles our Judge for the day, Mike Denny, said that since his last visit 2 years ago there was great progress with the Working Section. So hopefully we can build on this improvement next season. The final act of the season was to thank all the people who enable the Working Section continue from the Field Master, David McSheehy, the Working Section Secretary, Jenny Forbes and our Whippers In John Precey, John Reymond and Alan McDonald then lastly John and Doreen Haylock who collect the cap at each of our meets. We are looking forward to seeing what next season will bring.
Sunday, 26th February 2017
For our fifth meet of the season we were at Wood End Farm, Flamstead on 26th February 2017 and this was kindly organised by Matthew Higgs who is the huntsman of the South Herts Beagles and with the kind permission of the landowners. As there has been some changes in the farm we were slightly restricted with the land we could use but for 5 lines to practice before the trials we decided it was worth the journey. The land we were using had a good covering of winter wheat which was harbouring a fair number of hares in one the fields that we usually have available (sadly not this year). Although the wind increased through the morning it was dry overhead and we were thankful that we didn’t have any of the ‘horizontal sleet’ as we often have at this venue.
We had 15 beagles and their owners out with us today that were split into two groups. In the past there has been a wide margin around the fields with cross country jumps but now the land is ploughed to the hedge line so we had to pick our way alongside the hedges down to the furthest field for the first line. John Reymond’s mechanical hare made a return to the Working Section after a few more alterations and it set off at speed but sadly it struggled with the dampness on the crop wetting the terminals – back to the drawing board.
The hounds obviously had the wind under their tails as generally speaking they would set off well but at the beginning of the morning there was some shoulder barging and playing. As the morning progressed they settled down and we had some good runs. Izzy Ambridge was running well as we have come to expect with Honey Brownlow close behind on most of the lines. Earlier on the two McBain boys (Rufus and Barney) had been separated into the different groups as they were playing with their female housemates but once they re-joined each other Rufus did some good work. One of our younger hounds (Caney McSheehy) seemed to have turned a corner and was putting in some good work as she went around with Sybil Precey in the second group.
As the morning went on the wind strengthened and this pushed the scent off the line by a considerable distance which made following the line harder for the beagles to stay true. The Whippers In (John Precey, John Reymond and Jenny Forbes) were glad to retreat back to the cars out of the wind at the end of the meet. The last meet of the 2016-2017 season will be in 2 weeks’ time at Greens Norton for the Working Section Trials.
Sunday, 12th February 2017
Our meet on 12th February 2017 was held at Oat Hill Farm, Enstone, Oxon by the kind invitation of Frank Henderson. This farmland is used to supply haylage (a lightly pickled way of storing grass rather than drying it as hay) for the racehorses in Newmarket so generally we are able to run the hounds on established lays although today we did have a couple of stubble fields that proved to be quite sticky.
The weather was a typical raw February day with the odd snowflake zipping past on a freezing wind. Luckily any snow that had fallen the previous day had melted away and the ground wasn’t frozen either.
Today we welcomed a new member to the Working Section, Gail Perren with her beagle Hector, the poor boy was a little overwhelmed at the start but flew through his sit and recall testing and soon settled into his group. We had 18 hounds out that were split into two groups with Izzy Ambridge leading Group A and Sybil Precey in charge of Group B.
The first line was laid by our Field Master, David McSheehy, on a recently harrowed stubble field so he returned with most of the field stuck on his boots and again the liver/aniseed oil mix was used. Group A set off well and followed the line well but sadly the second group had a slower start and milled around without really ever setting off.
As we were moving towards the back of the farmyard and on to the grass we tried to use John Reymond’s “mechanised Hare” to lay the line as he had made some modifications since it’s last outing. It set off well but sadly had to be carried for the last part of the line as it struggled to pull the lure as it got heavier with the wet grass. For the last few lines of the day we had to revert to the old-fashioned way and use human power instead.
As the meet went on there was a number of consistent runs with Sybil Precey and Izzy Ambridge showing their groups where the line was and Barney McBain with Rosie McDonald providing a good back up. As Hector Perren gained in confidence he was out at the front of the groups following the scent well. For the last line of the day we used a stubble field behind the farmhouse that the beagles decided was too difficult to run on as their feet became clogged up with the soil and with the chill beginning to make it through the thermal layers we decided to call it a day.
On our return to the cars we were able to partake of a glass of non-alcoholic Mulled wine courtesy of Robin along with some brownies supplied by Gail – both very welcome on a chilly February day.
Sunday, 29th January 2017
After two weeks of frost and cold it was lovely to be invited to hold a meet on 29th January 2017 at Court Farm, Greens Norton near Towcester by Richard Jefferies. We were lucky with the weather as the breeze was gentle and mild with a light rain. The land that we were using was short cropped grass free from mud except in the gate ways. At this venue we have the use of Mervyn and his quad to lay the lines for us which means that there is less waiting around for the two groups of beagles that were out with us today.
As an experiment we decided to alter the scent on the lure to a mix of pulverised liver and rapeseed oil to which we later added some of the aniseed oil. We wanted to try this to see if we could encourage a few more of the less experienced hounds to follow the line. We were pretty sure that Izzie Ambridge and Sybil Precey would happily be accurate and on the scent (and they were) but we need to give the rest of them a better reason to join in the fun.
There have always been some hounds that have been reluctant to go out on to the field but today was a different matter. Teal Chapman was much more keen to follow as was his brother Louis Haylock. What was great to see as the meet continued was the increased confidence in some of the hounds especially on the last line with Norman Green putting in a wonderful performance. Barney McBain with his housemate, Rufus, were more focused although once Barney had run his line midway through the morning he did enjoy a mud/manure bath; we were all relieved that he wasn’t going home in our cars and that his owner, Sam, had offered to wash the jackets. The two hounds from the McDonald household, Riley and Rosie, also were out and on the lines which was lovely to watch; perhaps the young boy is starting to settle down now.
All in all the Working Section concluded that it was a very successful experiment and that we will carry on using the liver with a little tweak to the recipe maybe including some aniseed oil at the outset. It was noted that some of the more reluctant beagles faded towards the end of the day so topping up the lure throughout the meet with the liver mix will ensure the interest is maintained.
Thanks must be given to Robin and John who whipped in today, it is never pleasant to stand in the middle of a field in the rain but at least they could watch some hounds working well for a change.
Sunday, 8th December 2017
We had superb weather for our second meet of the season held at Ashmere Farm in Sole Street, Kent on 8th January 2017 with the kind permission of Mrs French and the Bolebrook Beagles. It was dry over head with a gentle, mild breeze although the arable land we were using had quite sticky soil so the boots did get a bit heavy as the day progressed. We had a fair number of hounds to test before moving out so as everybody caught up with the Christmas happenings there was hot mulled wine and sausage rolls to be munched.
There were enough beagles out today to be divided into 3 groups. As we all walked up to the first line of the day and with the ground as it was we were glad that Adam Beaney had kindly bought his remote-controlled car to lay the lines on the winter wheat. For many of the hounds it was their first outing of the season and with the excitement of the car as well their performance was a little erratic to say the least.
As we moved up the fields and the beagles settled down it was clear that Izzy Ambridge hadn’t lost her enthusiasm for the aniseed scent and did a great job of following the line consistently and at speed. Sybil Precey after her maternity duties took a little longer to settle but also followed the last few lines well. Rosie McDonald, one of our more mature beagles, saved her best for the last few lines of the day. For the boys one of our remaining working certificate holders, Indy Beany, steadily remembered what it was all about and diligently followed the lines showing us that he still had the skills although his housemate, Magic Beany wasn’t so focused. Rufus and Barney McBain put some good work in although not so consistently so hopefully as they settle down this will improve.
For the last line of the day the lure was dragged behind one of the cross-country horse jumps and it was lovely to watch Indy as he followed the line only to lose it at the jump then continue to search it out to go behind the obstacle and continue, it just goes to prove that there is life in the old boy yet.
After a lovely day dragging we trudged back to where the cars were parked trying to dislodge the clods of mud as we went. To fortify us for the journey home we consumed further mulled wine, tea, coffee with the hounds gently snoring in the cars. The consensus was that although the is plenty of room for improvement it was good to see so many of the hounds working the scent even if they got a little distracted at times.
Sunday, 4th December 2016
It has become a tradition for the first meet of the season to be held in Dauntsey, Wiltshire at the kind invitation of Sheila Wade at Smiths Farm Barn and Theresa Chapman at Dauntsey Lodge Farm. We are grateful to be able to use Sheila’s tea room to keep warm while all the beagles are tested with their stays and recalls before they are allowed out to the first field. For our visit on 4th December to the start of the 2016/2017 season the weather was clear and chilly with a heavy covering of frost on the roads and fields. It is always great to catch up and this year we were able to fortify ourselves with some non-alcoholic mulled wine kindly supplied by Nancy and Robyn. For the first time in many years we had no Working Certificate holders as we had lost Nubie Lehain in the summer and age had caught up with Buster Forbes sending him into retirement.
We had a smaller field for the first meet so we were able to test all the hounds in good time and then we walked down the road to Theresa’s house where the frost had melted. The great advantage with starting the Season here is that the paddocks are beagleproof so everybody can confidently let their hounds off the lead. We initially followed a line laid by the Field Master, David McSheehy, with the beagles on leads around the first paddock to see if we could interest them in an aniseed trail. The hounds had been split into 2 groups. Once the first line had been laid in the first enclosed paddock the beagles were sent off and although they all set off it wasn’t long before they got distracted and slowly came back to their handlers. The second group didn’t fare much better nor did the second line!
We then walked back up the road to Sheila’s land and were able to lay a further 3 lines. There was an improvement with some of the hounds, especially Rufus and Barney McBain, starting to follow the scent even if it wasn’t all the way round. We did have one hound, Maddie Forbes, who very slowly but definitely followed one of the laid lines, no one was as surprised as her owner. Once we had finished the lines we moved back into the tea room to catch up on the summer’s news and eat copious amounts of cake very kindly donated by the Working Section members. The meet had proved to be fairly typical of the first one of the season and we have hope to have a better performance at our next meet on 8th January 2017 in Kent.
Saturday, 5th March 2016
For the last meet of the 2015-2016 Season we were kindly invited to Langcourt Farm in Greens Norton, Northamptonshire by Richard Jeffery on 5th March 2016. The land that we use is close cropped grassland with some fields being muddier than others but as the fields progressed luckily the grass did get longer and cleaner. Although many of us had driven through varying depths of snow, sleet and rain the weather was bright but chilly and dry overhead.
The Field Master decided that like last season and due to the lack of consistency we would again hold a ‘Psuedo Trials’ and not award Working Certificates. We had invited Peter Roderick, who was a past Field Master of the Working Section, to mark our hounds and a past member, Sid Dunn, kindly stewarded for him. There are 5 points available for each line per beagle – 1 each for setting off, following the scent and giving tongue with 2 points to be given at the judge’s discretion. The hounds were split into 2 groups each led by one of our remaining Working Certificate holders. To help guide the hounds round we had 3 whippers in (with grateful thanks to John Precey, Barbara Roderick and James Lehain).
One great help for the day was that we had our lines laid by Mervin driving the all-terrain vehicle, he did a great job. The previous occupiers of the fields had left plenty of little presents for our beagles to snack on or roll in (especially Louis Haylock and Maddie Forbes). Our star of the day was Izzie Ambridge who gave a high scoring performance with good marks on 4 of the lines followed by Rufus McBain who although he didn’t have high scores he was very consistent. Our old boys, Nubie Lehain and Buster Forbes were not on their best form, frequently following the heel lines. One reason for this was that many of the fields were quite narrow and being a little slower in their old age, the youngsters were pushing them from the start towards the end of the line. After the final line a special 7th line was laid for 4 of the season’s best hounds (Izzie, Nubie, Buster and Sybil Precey). In previous trials, when there were more Working Certificate holders, the final line would be more challenging with the lure being lifted so making a gap in the scent so the beagles would have to search for it and we tried this again. Buster had obviously been saving himself for this last line and he put in a faultless performance scoring 5 points.
As is now traditional, once we had finished in the field we headed back to the Greens Norton Village Hall, where the donated tea had been very kindly laid out by Doreen Haylock. There was plenty to go round. It was also time to give thanks to our judge and his steward for standing in the middle of a chilly field for the day. Thanks and gifts were also given to David and Margaret McSheehy for their work through the season, along with our regular whippers in - John Reymond, John Precey and Alan McDonald. The Working Section Secretary, Jenny Forbes, was given a fruit hamper as thanks for her efforts behind the scenes liaising with landowners and organising the meets.
The members of the Working Section reflected on the improvement shown by the hounds both through this season and especially how far they had come since the end of last season. It is hoped that this will continue when we meet again for the next season.
Sunday, 21st February 2016
For the penultimate meet of the season we were invited to Wood End Farm, Markyate, Hertsfordshire on 21st February 2016. This was kindly arranged by the Huntsman, Matthew Higgs, of the South Herts Beagles. This venue is renowned amongst members of the Working Section for its freezing weather with usually horizontal rain or sleet. We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived today to overcast but dry skies with a very strong albeit mild wind. The land is predominately used for arable and most of the land was old stubble but luckily the first field we had available was established grassland which held the scent well. There was a healthy turnout of 16 hounds for today’s meet.
Sunday, 14th February 2016
Margaret McSheehy writes:-
On 14th February 2016 we were invited back by Richard Jeffery to Court Farm, Greens Norton. This was a postponed visit due to the appalling weather earlier in the year, but on this occasion, although a bit windy the sun shone brightly.
The fields were all grass which the hounds prefer and we had the services of Julian with the Quab truck (bike with a canopy) to lay the lines.
We had 14 hounds which were divided into two groups. One group was led by Nubie Lehain who was the only worker out that day, with some of the younger, promising hounds and another group of the more experienced hounds. We all set off happily hoping that our hounds would follow the scent well.
Nubie had recently been ill and had lost some weight, but he was fully recovered and set a fast pace which the younger hounds loved, most of them completing the line. Sometimes they stopped for a frolic and then continued. Norman the new hound joined in every time.
The other group battled often not traveling very far before returning to their owners. On the last line Dotty McDonald took off along the line and we all thought she had suddenly got the hang of it, but about a third of the way round she gave up and returned across the middle of the field. Some of the boys were fascinated by Temptress Chapman which disrupted their concentration to follow the line.
At the end of the day Nubie was definitely the Star turn. Our next meet is at Flamsted on 21st February 2016.
Sunday, 7th February 2016
On 7th February 2016 for our fourth meet of the season we were invited to Field Farm, Lewknor by landowner Murray Graham. This venue is insight of the M40 as it drops down the escarpment and the area that we use had a good covering of winter wheat. The soil is well drained which was a relief after a night of rain although there were a lot of flints which made the going a little harder for the hounds. The sky was lightly overcast with a very strong, chilly easterly wind but most importantly - dry.
There were 19 hounds out today which were split into 2 groups with the two Forbes girls sharing a spot in the first group. It had been decided to try and run the 4 most promising novices (Izzie Ambridge, Barney McBain, Riley McDonald and Sybil Precey) together to see how they worked and whether they would take confidence from each other. It had been hoped that they would led by Nubie Lehain but sadly he was recovering from a bit of Beagle Belly.
After doing our traditional walk following the Field Master, David McSheehy, dragging the line we moved on to the arable land. To say that the first line didn’t go to plan was an understatement. Most of the hounds managed to go about 100 yards and then lose the scent in the strong wind. Amber Ambridge remembered that when she was at Lewknor last year there was something very interesting in the pump house half way up the field and she shot off to investigate, this distracted her daughter, Izzie, who had been doing well on the line until she went off too.
The day didn’t improve for the next few lines, which we put down to the strong wind whipping the aniseed scent away. There was a pause when a hare was put up and ran down the field but luckily the beagles ignored it. Towards the top of the land there is a belt of taller trees to the east which seemed to lift the wind and enable the hounds to follow the line. We were happy to watch Izzie follow the line by herself, picking up the line when she lost it. As one of our members, Nancy, was laying the next line she was being followed by a Red Kite who was taking an unhealthy interest in the lure. On this line Buster Forbes did a textbook run, albeit steady and slow but he was very diligent and giving tongue. Louis Haylock had been keeping a keen eye on where a second hare had run off and he thought it was his job to see where it had gone but came back to us very quickly.
On the last line of the day Riley McDonald led the hounds back very impressively with speed and it looked like his housemate, Dot, had also run well but her honest owner admitted that it wasn’t quite the case. The members were all happy to get back to their cars and warm up out of the wind. Our next meet is the postponed Greens Norton meet on 14th February.
Sunday, 24th January 2016 - Oat Farm, Enstone
After the disappointment of having to postpone the first meet of 2016 it was lovely to be invited to hold a meet on Frank Henderson’s Oat Hill Farm at Enstone in Oxfordshire on 24th January 2016. The land on this farm is used to produce high quality haylage for racehorses. The previous weekend there had been snow and sub-zero temperatures, so we were glad to have an overcast day with a gentle, mild wind. With good grass cover to hold the aniseed scent that was being released with the gentle weather we had perfect conditions.
The Working Section had 17 beagles running today in two groups; each with a elder statesman, working certificate holder and including a few promising youngsters amongst their number. As usual the first line was walked behind David McSheehy all together on leads to encourage the beagles to follow the aniseed line. As we went to the first field through the farmyard we were surprised to see a pair of enormous goats which all the beagles studiously ignored. We had a little delay between the two groups on the first line when a distracted Bruce Forbes had to be re-captured after he had found some delicious forbidden scents – he wasn’t trusted again and retired from the field.
The first group was led by Nubie Lehain who yet again was on superb form and was clearly enjoying himself. He always set off at a good pace with Honey Brownlow and Cannie McSheehy tight on his heels. Sadly the girls would only stay with him for the first half of the line and then gracefully return to their owners. The second group had a few novices showing great promise which was lucky as their worker, Buster Forbes, decided that while he would diligently follow the line he would do it at his own speed – steadily. Two girls (Izzie Ambridge and Sybil Precey) took over in sterling fashion and led the group with speed and accuracy. By the fourth line one of our youngest members of the Working Section, Riley McDonald, really started to work the line along with the girls. It is always very rewarding to see a young hound start to work out what dragging is all about and enjoy himself.
Although there was a good covering of grass on the fields there was a fair amount of soil showing that had been lifted with the recent frost then made very sticky with the rain from the previous night. As the meet progressed many of the hounds were visibly tiring from the build up of claggy mud in their paws. Thanks should be given to Jayne Brownlow, John Haylock and John Precey’s granddaughter, Lola, who trudged through the fields carrying most of them on their boots as they laid the line for the beagles to follow. Our next meet will be held at Lewknor on 7th February 2016.
Sunday, 27th December 2015 - Ashmere Farm, Meopham
For our Christmas meet on 27th December 2015 the Working Section of The Beagle Club were invited to Ashmere Farm, Meopham, Kent owned by Mrs Lucy French. We are able to use this land through the kind organisation of John Reymond and the Bolebrook Beagles. For this festive meet we began the day with mulled wine and some sausage rolls just to keep the chill out although this year it was very mild, cloudy but dry overhead. The land that we were using is mainly arable which this year was lying fallow and surprisingly dry considering the rain that has recently fallen. When the lines were laid we had to take the strong wind into consideration as the scent was being moved quite a distance from where it had been put.
There were 13 hounds out which had been split into 2 groups and unusually each group had a pair of Working Certificate holders who, in theory, would lead the way around the line. Age has caught up with them and the workers are not as fast as they were. With the heavy going certainly Buster Forbes has got wise to missing a couple of corners but Nubie Lehain and Magic Beaney showed dogged determination to follow the line even if we had to wait a little for them.
We had some promising youngsters out today with Izzie Ambridge showing a good turn of speed as she closely followed the line. One of our youngest beagles, Cannie McSheehey, was setting out well but seemed to lose concentration once she over took the steadier workers. Hopefully as the season progresses she will gain the confidence to continue to work the line. Coda Kimber showed that she could perform when she wanted to.
Towards the end of the morning we had the chance to clean the hound’s paws by laying a line on some grass. What was good to see was way that the workers and some of the novices gained a second wind and went around the line accurately at a good rate.
At this meet we were lucky to have the help of John Precey’s daughter, Sophie, to help whip in and the Ballie family who, with Donna Hall, handled some Forbes’ hounds and Rory even trudged through the heavy soil in the field to lay one of the lines.
After the last line the tired beagles and their owners returned to their cars to enjoy a light tea with some lovely cakes donated by the members washed down with tea and coffee supplied by Sally Kimber. Our next meet will be held on 10th January 2016 at Greens Norton, South Northamptonshire.
Sunday, 6th December 2015 - Scots Smith Farm Yard, Chippenham
For the first meet of the 2015-2016 season the Working Section of the Beagle Club were invited to Scot Smiths Farm Yard in Dauntsey, Wiltshire on 6th December 2015 by Sheila Ward. Although this is our smallest venue we are able to combine it with some beagle proof paddocks owned by Theresa Chapman, one of the Beagle Club’s committee members. With the long summer break it was lovely to catch up with our fellow draggers and their hounds. After the gale force winds from the storm ‘Desmond’ over night the weather calmed down through the morning and at least it was dry overhead for the majority of the day.
The first meet is always approached with some trepidation as to the level of chaos the hounds will give us; hence the beagle proof paddocks for the first run of the season. Another good reason for this venue is that there is a cosy tearoom so the members can wait while everybody’s hound is tested prior to going out for the first line. We test each beagle on their recall and a minute stay. This is to prove that even with plenty of distraction owners can keep their hound’s attention for a minute and come to call. Although sometimes the scent found in the field proves too exciting and the odd hound will take some persuading to return to their owner.
With all the beagles tested, and passed, everybody set of to walk to the paddocks about a quarter of a mile away. Before letting the hounds off their leads we followed the Field Master, David McSheehy, as he laid the aniseed scent around the first paddock so the beagles could be reminded of what they had come for. The hounds had been split into 2 groups each wearing different coloured jackets to make them easily identifiable. When it was time to let them off there was much excitement but not a lot of following the scent. We had a few new hounds out for the first time that had been put with more experienced beagles but they were not taking much notice and proved more of a distraction. One of the bitches, Sybil Precey, who came out a few times last season was very keen and following the line with the hindrance of one of the newbies, Caney McSheehy, and her mother, Coda Kimber.
After walking back to Sheila’s land we were able to lay another 4 lines and it seemed like some of the beagles were starting to settle down with Bertie Green, Dot McDonald and the veteran of the group, Buster Forbes following all or some of the lines. Bruce Forbes had to be rescued from the wrong side of a fence in a prickly thicket after getting distracted on a different scent.
We retired to a lovely tea donated by the members in the hope that the hound’s performance can only improve and looking forward to our Christmas meet on 27th December to be held in Kent.
Sunday, 15th March 2015 - Langford Farm, Green Norton - Mock Trial
The Frozen Rogues Gallery at the Mock Trial Photo taken by John Reymond
For the final meet of the 2014/2015 season on 15th March 2015 it was decided to hold a ‘Mock’ Working Trial. The hounds have come on in leaps and bounds over the last 2 seasons from looking more like confetti on a windy day to, in the main, setting off in the correct direction as a team. Although there has been an improvement it wasn’t enough to ask an external Master of Hounds to judge our beagles. With this in mind we invited Mike Denny to cast his eye over hounds. Mike is a past Field Master of the Working Section and after a little finger counting we worked out that he retired from the field 14 years ago. He is also the Treasurer of the Beagle Club. With so many new beagles that have not experienced a trial this was also the opportunity to introduce our hounds to the idea of having a judge and steward in the centre of the field.
We were privileged to be able to use the land owned by Richard Jefferies in Greens Norton, Towcester. The farm chiefly produces lamb but there is some arable too with a shoot over the winter. When we normally use Richard’s land we are helped by having a quad bike to lay the lines and this is driven by Adam but he has moved on to run his wife’s family farm so a friend, Mervyn and his wife, volunteered to drive the quad. This wasn’t your normal Mother’s Day outing for his wife.
The conditions for the drag were superb, with a little overnight rain to soften the ground and a gentle but chilly breeze. There were 15 beagles split into 3 groups each with a single worker to guide them. As usual we walked all the hounds on their leads for the first line before getting on with the Mock Trial. We had enough space to run all 3 groups on each of the 6 lines, so this meant that each group was able to run 2 lines as the first group to go round. Usually the third group to run on a line struggles to stay focused on the scent but with the good conditions this did not prove a problem.
The 3 workers (Folly Peach, Suki Trahearn and Nubie Lehain) all ran with great consistency and, as expected, had the highest scores. Two of the newer girls (Coda Kimber and Izzie Ambridge) also showed that they had the right idea with the highest novice boy Rufus McBain tight on their heels. The 2 Forbes hounds (Bruce and Maddie) struggled to ignore the fact that one of their owners was stewarding and couldn’t resist visiting to see if he had any treats available. At the end of the meet we laid an extra line to allow the 3 workers the chance to follow a scent unencumbered by novices. It was interesting to see that Nubie Lehain set off well and followed the line doggedly at his own speed but the 2 girls took to the heel line at speed.
After the last line we all retired to the local village hall in Greens Norton to a sumptuous tea provided by our members. It was the ideal opportunity to thank Mike Denny for giving up his Sunday to judge our beagles along with John Reymond, John Precey and Alan McDonald who help us at each meet by whipping-In. Thanks also went to David and Margaret McSheehy for helping to run the Working Section and also to John and Doreen Haylock for collecting the cap at each meet. Further thanks should also go to Sam McBain who has stepped and composed the write up and also to everybody who has taken the coats home to wash them. It is with positive hopes that we look forward to the next season.
Sunday, 22nd February 2015 - Flamstead
For the penultimate meet held on 22nd February 2015, of the season the Beagle Club Working Section had been invited to Wood End Farm, Markyate, Hertfordshire. This was organised by Matthew Higgs who is the Master of the South Herts Beagles. The land is very flat albeit on top of quite a hill and therefore exposed to all the weather. There is a range of crops from a good covering of winter wheat to an immature rape crop and one field of old turf. Usually when we use this venue we struggle against horizontal rain or sleet but today we were lucky and had dry, if cloudy, skies with a strengthening wind.
As usual for the first line we all followed the Field Master, David McSheehy, and his lure with the hounds on their leads to remind them which scent we wanted them to follow. We had a smaller field than usual of 15 beagles which were split into 2 groups. Our only worker, Nubie Lehain, was going to have his work cut out leading one of the groups and throughout the day his influence showed as his group generally set out better and usually the correct way round. With the other group the more focused hounds would set out correctly but the others would split off to attempt the heel line before getting a little distracted.
We had some good performances from Izzie and Amber Ambridge again. Half way through we decided to swap Izzie with Honey Brownlow out of Nubie’s group as Honey was spending a fair amount of time playing with Bertie Green. It was good to see Izzie lead the group with confidence with Nubie backing her up. Also in this group were Louis Haylock and Demo Probert who put in their best performances so far this season. Another beagle that was doing better today was Rufus McBain but we put that down to the fact that his home buddy (Bella) was not there to hinder his progress.
From the second group a notable performance was given by Barney McBain. Dot and Rosie MacDonald were both very focused on their owners, one of which was always whipping in, so as soon as they were released they would run either Kate or Alan rather than follow the laid trail of aniseed.
For one of the lines Alan McDonald had bought a long a ‘scent’ that is used on the continent; its name was unpronounceable and it did look quite disgusting. We wanted to trial this substance to see if more of the hounds were attracted to it rather than the aniseed on; sadly it looks like we may have to go back to the aniseed oil for the moment.
Just as we were running the last line there was a few drops of rain in the wind that had been increasing in strength through the morning so we were glad to call it a day. We were all very thankful that we had the help of both John Reymond and John Precey to keep the hounds under control with their whipping in.
Sunday, 8th February 2015 - Lewknor
The Beagle Club Working Section met for the 6th time this season at Field Farm, Lewknor by kind permission of Murray Graham. Field Farm is an 800 acre working farm, owned and run by the Graham family, set at the foot of the Chiltern Hills in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It is a traditional mixed farm with beef and arable crops. The weather seemed perfect for the meet, clear skies throughout the time we were there with a slight breeze.
There were two new hounds Clover Terry and Bertie Green; Sally Kimber tested and passed them both. We were soon off and all dogs walked past the Alpacas; some found this to be a perfect opportunity to exercise their vocal cords.
We started off with the traditional walking the first line whilst following David with all hounds on leads. The first two lines found most hounds taking the heel line (scenic route) run to the first corner and then return to their owners. Nubie was doing consistently well and on the second line manage to pick up another hound who was doing the heel line, who then turned and followed. Izzie Ambridge was again doing well.
The ground was a lot softer than first appeared. I think many who agreed to walk the line we’re then taken back by the difference between the main path and the fields themselves. Hat’s off to the whipper in’s John Precey and John Reymond for putting up with it.
Thanks go out to John Precey and John Reymond for whipping in, Dave McSheehy for Field Master duties and also to Jill Ambridge for washing the coats. The next and penultimate meet is 22nd February at Flamstead; looking forward to seeing you all there.
Sunday, 25th January 2015 - Enstone
After a couple of weeks of freezing weather we were blessed with sunshine and a mild wind at our meet on 25th January 2015. We had been invited to run at Oathill Farm, Enstone, Oxfordshire by Mr Frank Henderson. This farm produces forage for racehorses in Newmarket and therefore we were running on different ages of grass leys. Some of the younger leys were proving to be very muddy as the frost had lifted the soil as it thawed so collected in the hounds’ paws and doubled the size of their feet – most uncomfortable.
Demo Probert was out with us for the first time running in one of the 2 groups of 9 hounds we had out today and he seemed very excited to be with the Working Section. As we had a newbie out with us we walked the first line on leads to help him get the idea. For the first line it seemed that both groups set off well but got distracted about 100m from the start; not so auspicious.
We then moved on to the muddier ground and the valiant line layers seemed to be bringing a fair amount of the field back with them on their boots so we felt for the beagles. The first group with Buster Forbes as its worker left him behind as he struggled with the soil, at over 10 years old he decided that it really wasn’t for him. In the second group we had the rising stars of Amber Ambridge and her daughter Izzie with their friend Honey Brownlow who, along with our other veteran worker today Suki Trahearn, were performing consistently well on all the lines.
With her owner whipping in, Rosie McDonald didn’t run the lines as well as she has done in past as she became distracted when she found him out in the field. On the last line she did much better when he came in to let her off the lead; it looks like we may have lost a whipper-in! Barney McBain was also running well today although his home buddies Rufus and Bella in the other group seemed more interested in playing as they went round.
Earlier in the day we lost two hounds Merlin and Poppy Johnson, who proved to be rather elusive but the Working Section search procedure came into its own and they were found safe and sound if a little tired.
Our next meet will be held in Lewknor on Sunday 8th February. Where is the season going - there are only another 3 meets to go this season.
Sunday, 11th January 2015 - Meopham
The Working Section held it’s first meet of 2015 on 11th January at Ashmere Farm, Meopham, Kent with the kind permission of Mrs Lucy French. The land we were using was arable with a good cover of winter wheat and an area of rough land. We were very lucky with the weather as the previous day had been very windy; although it was breezy and quite chilly the sun was shining. To start the season off we all partook of a little mulled wine and sausage roll before setting off for the first field.
We were running 2 groups of hounds with 2 newbies (Rosie Vickers and Phoebe Williams) and the welcome return of Magic and Indy Beaney. One of the problems with a cold wind is that is can move the scent quite a distance from where it was laid and that the hounds find it harder to focus on the scent that they should be following. This was proved by the best lines run throughout the meet were done on the heel line rather than the way they had been laid. One of the more consistent beagles was Izzie Ambridge although Amber Ambridge seemed to be little keener to do her own thing part of the time.
Our first line of the day after the Christmas break was a little erratic but at least they all the set off and the feeling was that ‘they were just getting back in to the swing of it’. Sadly things only got worse for the second line when all the hounds were determined to not even face the right way and those that did go off went in completely the wrong direction. Things did improve as the meet progressed and Indy Beaney proved that although this was his first meet of the season he hadn’t lost his touch.
At the last meet Leo Vickers had some very promising runs but this time he was a little distracted by his housemate Rosie who was having a lovely day out for her first time out. Our other first timer,Phoebe Williams, was a little overwhelmed by the whole experienced but after awhile she became a lot braver.
We welcomed a couple of visitors who joined us – Catherine Fox who beagle-sat for one of our whippers in and Helen Probert who kindly laid a line for us; we look forward to seeing you both again. We made our way back to the cars after 6 lines and to some lovely hot tea kindly supplied by John Reymond and Sally Kimber with some home made cakes bought along by our other members - very welcoming as we were all a little chilly by this time. Our next meet will be in Enstone on 25th January 2015.
Sunday, 21st December 2014 - Greens Norton
The Beagle Club Working Section met for the third time this season at Court Farm, Greens Norton on 21st December 2014 by kind permission of Richard Jeffery. We were glad to welcome Adam and his quad bike to lay the lines, it always means that we can save our legs and fit in a couple of extra lines. The weather was good to start with although slightly windy.
The Working Section welcomed a new beagle, Leo Vickers, to dragging and the return of one of our workers Nubie Lehain. Whilst we waited for the testing many of the beagles found the hoof trimming s left by a farrier very tempting. We had two groups of eight hounds to run at this meet. We were soon off and all dogs walked the first drag following the scent line on leads.
The first two lines found most of the hounds getting into the motion. By the third line the wind was picking up and this was shifting the scent across the field. The lack of foliage on the crop made it more difficult for the scent to hold and therefore many of the hounds tried to cut the first corner. Nubie and Suki were the workers on this meet and you can see why, often leading the hounds out and calling all the way. Although at times some of the hounds had either come back or were on their own mission following other scents. After the first couple of lines we all remembered that walking through the mud and the build-up on the shoes made walking with dogs much more difficult.
As the lines moved on we saw good work being undertaken by Polly and Amber Ambridge and also Honey Brownlow with Sybil Precey showing she can maintain her good performance. Leo, for a first timer, took to many lines like a duck to water; it is great to see new people coming out with us. A few dogs were distracted by the quad bike and the allure of other dogs; apologies from Rufus McBain to Dulcet Chapman. We moved on to grass fields and all hounds seem to adapt to this ground much better.
Our thanks go to Dave McSheehy for his Field Master duties, John Precey and John Reymond for whipping in, Margaret McSheehy for collecting the cap and to Jayne Brownlow for washing the coats.
At the end of the meet many headed to the local pub, The Butchers Arms to warm themselves through, whilst others rushed home for more Christmas preparation. The next meet date is 11th January 2015 and will be held in Kent. We wish a Merry Christmas to everyone and are looking forward to many more meets in 2015.
Sunday 7th December 2014 - East Meon, Hampshire
For the second meet of the season the Working Section of the Beagle Club were kindly invited to The Fly Fishery at East Meon, Petersfield, Hampshire on 7th December 2014 by Jamie Butler and his family. The farm is primarily grassland used for grazing the dairy young stock so it makes it ideal to lay lines for the hounds. Although there was fine rain in the air it was due to clear as the morning progressed.
After testing the new hounds, we started the meet by walking a line on leads as we had a couple of first-time beagles. We had 3 groups of 8 hounds out today but the 2 workers (Suki Trahearn and Buster Forbes) were going to have their work cut out to show the novice hounds what to do. We moved off to the first line and all the groups decided that the heel line was the best way forward but as we moved along the fields they all started to concentrate better and follow the line as laid.
One of our first timers, Izzie Ambridge, showed real promise and was happy to leave her mother, Amber, behind to storm round each line. Whilst the rest of his group was out following the aniseed Bruce Forbes decided to check out some delicious scents in the centre of the field but luckily he decided to join in on the later fields. Some of our other novice hounds were also working the lines well especially Barney McBain and Rosie McDonald who have continued to be consistent after the penny dropped last season.
As the morning progressed the wind changed to the north and the temperature dropped but luckily we were moving towards more sheltered fields which enabled the beagles to work better. Our first-timer from our last meet, Sybil Precey, had been easily distracted most probably because her owner was out at the edge of the field whipping in but she did a cracking run on the penultimate line with her friend Maddie Forbes.
With the last line of the day we moved to the most sheltered of the fields the line was laid with a sneaky ‘dog leg’ to see how many of the beagles were truly following. It was interesting that both of the workers diligently worked the line if in a more stately fashion and the younger hounds didn’t see the need to bother. It was a happy group that retired to the onsite cafe to partake of wonderful bacon butties and catch up on everybody’s news.
Our next meet will be held on Sunday, 21st December up in Buckinghamshire so we hope that everybody will have a late break from their Christmas preparations and join us.
Sunday, 23rd November 2014 - Chippenham, Wiltshire
Well, it was a long trip in torrential rain to Wiltshire on Sunday, 23rd November 2014 for the first meet of the Beagle Club Working Section 2014-2015 season. The weatherman promised that the rain would stop and the sun would come out at lunchtime and indeed when we arrived at Scot Smiths Farmyard, Dauntsey, Witshire at the kind invitation of Sheila and Richard Wade it was dry. We were also invited to use the ‘beagleproof’ paddocks owned by Theresa and Andrew Chapman that were just down the road to start the day. Before setting off all the hounds that were going to run were put through their paces with the mandatory 1 minute stay and recall.
To start the day the Field Master, David McSheehy, laid a training line for the hounds to follow on the lead as it has been a long break since the last meet in March and this would hopefully remind them what we were here for. The field of 18 beagles were split into 2 groups each lead by a single Working Certificate holder (Suki Trahearn and Buster Forbes). We moved through to the larger paddock to lay a couple of lines and remembering how many meets it took for the hounds to get running properly last season there was a certain amount of nervousness that the first group was released at the drop of the flag. We needn’t have worried as both groups set off with confidence on the line. It was great to see the hounds run with their coloured coats just as they should. There were a few that turned back from halfway round but the rest of the group came in on the line. Barney McBain clearly carried on with the good work that he produced last season and we had a new star in Sybil Precey who was out for the first time.
We then moved back to Scots Smith Farmyard to lay some further lines. The next line was not quite as successful as the others as both Merlin and Poppy got a little distracted and evaded the Whippers In and decided that aniseed wasn’t enough to hold their attention. After a little while they both came back looking a little dirtier but with smiling faces. We only had time to run a further line before we lost the light. This again was run well even if the heel line seemed a little too popular.
The draggers then retired to the yard and were rewarded with a lovely tea that had been donated by the members. The next meet will be held at East Meon near to Petersfield and hopefully the weather will be a lot better than last year!
Sunday, 23rd February 2014 - Flamstead
Our meet held at Wood End Farm, Markyate today was the warmest one so far this season, not that that was difficult to achieve. When we meet at this farm it is often cold and windy, with varying amounts of sleet or hail. Today we were lucky and only had the wind with a little light rain. This venue had been organised for us by Matthew Higgs, the Master of the South Herts. Beagles. It was a little daunting to have him watching our hounds on the first line but a fair number performed well. The land we used surrounds a small copse and is mostly either winter corn or oilseed rape, but the initial field was well established grassland. The fields are fairly level and must have an established group of Muntjac deer, considering the number of deer slots that we saw. We had been warned that there may also be quite a number of hares too but we only saw one on the outer edge of the land we used.
There was a good turnout of 20 beagles, that were divided into 3 groups. It is always difficult for the third group on any line as the scent dissipates as it is used, so the groups take it in turn to run the line first. Each group was able to start off with 2 working certificate holders but sadly Suki Trahearne was not feeling top notch so retired early, and after running some lovely lines Tia Bidey cut her paw and was not able to continue. This did leave one of the groups with four less experienced hounds, who struggled as they became tired without the guidance of the workers. Two other workers, Folly Peach and Nubie Lehain continued to put in some very consistent lines and it was good to see them enjoying themselves.
The copse proved to be irresistible to Merlin and Poppy Johnson and clearly they needed to check it for scents on the way back from the second line but they were soon back with us. Honey Brownlow was also putting in some good lines through the morning; it is good to see that she is getting the hang of it. Rosie McDonald seemed to improve and follow the line but only after she had found her owner , Alan, when he was whipping in. On one of the later lines Poppy Johnson had a wonderful time rolling before making her way back - she did a very comprehensive job.
We were all pleased that the performance the hounds put in at Lewknor continued at this meet, albeit with a few distractions. The next meet on 9th March will be the last of the season, which will be a pity since it looks as if the hounds are starting to work the lines well.
Sunday, 9th February 2014 - Lewknor
After our very soggy meet at East Meon and having studied the recent weather forecast, we had a surprisingly dry meet on 9th February 2014. This was by the kind invitation of Murray Graham at Field Farm in Lewknor. The theme of the write ups so far this season has been one of easily distracted hounds with the odd moment of ‘hurrah they’ve remembered what dragging is all about’. Today it seemed that the beagles had turned a corner and found their ‘mojo’.
The meet was being run on a stubble field which leads up to the base of the escarpment that was open to a very strong south-easterly wind. It was decided to start at the windward end of the fields and work down; this, it was hoped, would reduce the effect of the inevitable drift of the aniseed as each line was laid.
There were 18 hounds out, that were split into two groups and we were able to lay six lines in the 90 acre fields. From the first line it was noticeable that the beagles were keen to get on with the job in hand. Whereas in previous meets this season it had been hard to get the hounds to concentrate long enough to get to the first corner, today each group were following the line to the end. We welcomed back two working certificate holders who led one of the groups (Nubie Lehain and Folly Peach). Although on the first line we thought that Nubie had hurt himself when he had a little sit down, when he was let off on the second line both he and Folly decided to do that line and then go back over the track to re-do the first line. In this second group there were some other notable hounds that worked well including Mawgan Bidey and Polly Ambridge. Barney McBain was doing a good job in the first group often leading Bruce Forbes in with Honey Brownlow and Rosie McDonald.
Whilst we were out on the field we saw 2 hares but luckily the beagles hadn’t caught their scent so we were able to continue with the meet. It has been great to be able to be so positive about a meet and lovely to see the hounds working so well. Fingers crossed that this continues through to the last 2 meets of this season.
Sunday, 26th January 2014, East Meon
Once every season there is a meet when you look at the weather forecast and hope that they have got it wrong. The meet held with the kind permission of Jamie Butler at Meon Springs near Petersfield on 26th January 2014 was this season’s. There were a plucky group of Beagle Club members with their 15 hounds who braved the weather to join us. This venue is primarily a trout fishery on a dairy farm; the fields are all old turf, which usually lets the scent hold well but with the heavy rain and strong winds was not so good this time.
So far this season, with the lack of experienced working hounds, it has been difficult to train the younger novice hounds to follow the lines that have been laid for them. In previous seasons there has been a greater proportion of working certificate holders to novice hounds. The experienced workers show the rest of the beagles what to do and by using their voices draw the others to the line. This season we usually have just one worker for each group, which has not proved strong enough, especially if conditions are not perfect.
When we started this season the hounds were often struggling to get to the first turn on a line before getting distracted and returning to their owners. Having had a series of weekly meets this month and with the bad conditions today the hounds, in the main, set off well. We have to see this as a positive.
For the meet today the beagles were put into two groups and they were divided into those that in earlier meets have shown some promise and those which have not been so focused. It was hoped that the first group would be able to learn from each other and start to knit together, following the line. One of this group was Barney McBain; on nearly every line that he ran he worked well. The others seemed to get easily distracted although there were some good part lines and heel lines ran.
The second group surprised us as through the morning they were setting off well and often running better lines than the first group. Rosie McDonald worked especially well as did Maddie and Filly Forbes. These three girls would usually go about 20 feet and then return to the owners, so it was great to see them do so well.
As the meet progressed and everybody became wetter it was decided after the fifth field that we would admit defeat and allow the weather to continue without us. At the Fishery they have opened a small cafe with a log burning stove that served some of the best egg and bacon rolls we had tasted.
Sunday, 19th January 2014, Enstone
The roads had dried out, the sun was shining and there was a gentle breeze so not what we usually expect for a day out dragging with the Working Section. We had been invited to Oat Hill Farm, Enstone by its owner Frank Henderson on 19th January 2014. This farm produces haylage for the horse racing industry in Newmarket. The fields are even, with a good covering of grass so it provides some of the best conditions.
In the week preceding this meet we heard that Gerry Meek had died. This lovely lady was a stalwart member of the Beagle Club and her affix, Perrystar, adorns many of the cups that are awarded at the Trials. Before we set off to the first field we held a minute’s silence to remember Gerry.
We had a smallish field of 15 hounds that were split into 2 groups for this meet. As usual the first lines run in the first field were a little chaotic, as both groups felt that they had to let off some steam. Once we moved on to the next field all the beagles seemed to settle down. Tia Bidey had come out of an early retirement and with her housemate, Mawgan, started to run some lovely lines. At times Mawgan became distracted by some of the other younger hounds but Tia often carried by herself, giving tongue.
Later on another lovely run was done by Buster Forbes and his son Bruce; it was good to see them swapping the lead with their heads down following the line. This came as a surprise as up to that point the only scent Bruce had found was a fresh pile left behind by a fox which he proceeded to apply liberally to neck and coat; not such a pleasant trip home in the car.
New recruit, Honey Brownlow, decided to wait until her owner, Jayne, laid a line before she ran a full circuit on the penultimate field. The best sight was that she also took Barney McBain, Bruce Forbes and Dottie McDonald with her. Barney and Bruce have shown that they are capable of following the lines if they can keep focused but we were especially encouraged by Dottie and Honey.
The Working Section all enjoyed a wonderful day in the Oxfordshire countryside with their hounds and friends. We would like to thank everybody who volunteered to lay the lines and to whip in; it is lovely to be part of a great team. There were some happy and tired beagles who returned to their cars, and one very smelly one!
Sunday, 12th January 2014, Greens Norton
For our third meet of the season we were invited to return to Little Court Farm in Greens Norton, Buckinghamshire on 12th January 2014 by its owner Richard Jeffery. After weeks of rain it was amazing to see frost on the ground and the sun shining as we arrived at the venue. We were met by Adam and his trusty quad bike as he was going to lay the lines for us. Sadly it wasn’t long before the sun disappeared, a strong breeze arrived and the temperature dropped.
There were 16 hounds and their owners that were divided into 3 groups running on mainly arable fields of oilseed rape finishing on some hard grazed grass. Luckily with the frost in the ground the going was better than we thought it would be and the humans were able to walk on the grass headlands although the beagles managed to stay pretty clean too.
After the promise shown at our Meopham meet two weeks ago it seemed that the hounds had lost form again. Generally the groups would set off strongly but often get distracted and lose focus at the first corner, then returning to their owners. The increasing wind certainly was pushing the scent quite a distance from the original line and whether the chill ground also had an effect is debatable.
The first line of the day set the mood with two hounds deciding that “deer” was far more interesting than the aniseed trail that had been laid for them. Luckily they just wanted to check that the nearby copse wasn’t hiding anything and when that was done they returned to the rest of the beagles. There were exceptions on some of the lines when the keener hounds (Suki Trahearne, Buster Forbes and Barney McBain in the main) ran the heel line; Missy Hankey also performed well on a couple of lines. Again there were some moments of hope when a couple of the younger hounds (Rufus McBain and Mawgan Bidey) looked as if they were starting to pick up the aniseed scent. On the whole the hounds seemed to work better with the grass ley rather than the oilseed rape.
For the last line of the day, to see if we could motivate the beagles into going beyond the first corner, we gave Adam and the quad bike a good head start and then let them off in their groups. This certainly got them all running and focusing better, so we then tried to let them follow the same line, but this was not so successful. We decided to call it a day and make our way back to the cars. One of us, Tessa Forbes, struck lucky and cadged a lift on the quad bike with Adam, which saved her trudging through some thick mud in the gateways. All in all the day hadn’t gone quite to plan but it was great to be out with the beagles and friends.
Sunday, 29th December 2013, Meopham
After the horrific rain and wind around Christmas we had a day of the best weather possible for taking the hounds out; the morning had dawned clear and calm without a cloud in the sky and just a dusting of frost. We had been invited to meet at Ashmere Farm near Sole Street in Kent by Lucy French and had been allowed to park at a barn owned by David Stapleton. The land we were using had a super crop of winter wheat which gave plenty of leaf to take the aniseed scent and the ground had dried surprisingly well. We were joined for the day by Ernie, a basset hound, who was made an honorary beagle for the day and is owned by David McSheehy's daughter Helen.
Before the meet, and while some hounds were tested, we had a glass of warming mulled wine with some hot sausage rolls to get everybody in a festive mood. We had split the hounds into 2 groups as there was a relatively small field and with the hope that with the slightly larger group we might get a better performance from the beagles. Sadly this theory didn't work quite as well as hoped although overall the hounds did look better than at the last meet. At this point mention should be made of the sterling efforts of Lucy and Alexander Hankey who between them ran the majority of the lines; it was a pity that the beagles didn't often use the full length.
The field had to wait to run the second line while a helicopter passed overhead and then swung low over the field, hovered by a nearby house (presumably to drop in a late Christmas card) and then flew off. As the morning progressed we did see some sparks of brilliance and certainly many hounds would set off well but when the line turned a corner it seemed to confuse them and they would mill around while they decided how fast they would return to the owners. Half way through the meet there was a great cheer when Barney McBain was the first hound to do a full line. According to Matt and Sam, his owners, this was the best he has ever done and it raised all our hopes that the others would follow suit. We had to wait for the last 2 fields for our younger worker, Buster Forbes, to remember what he was supposed to do. Even though he was running the heel line having turned away from the start it was lovely to see him striding out and 'giving tongue', but sadly all by himself. On the last field his son, Bruce Forbes, also seemed to get the idea and put his nose down to follow the scent until he was distracted by meeting his father coming the other way! In the second group to run this last line, after a shaky start, Barney started out on the line but got stuck in the same place that Bruce was distracted.
After walking back to the cars Sally Kimber rustled up some cups of tea and cake that was most welcome, Margaret McSheehy also produced a wonderful chocolate cake.
Sunday, 7th December 2013, Chippenham
We had been invited to hold our opening meet for the 2013-2014 season on Sheila Ward's land in the small village of Dauntsey, Wiltshire on 7th December 2013. We had previously held one of our social events at this venue and although there is only a small amount of land it is ideal for testing all the hounds prior to the start of the season. Another reason is that it is has an office where we could make tea and coffee to keep us warm while the testing was being done.
Once all the 18 hounds present had passed we divided them into 3 groups and moved out to the field. It is hard to describe the lines that the beagles ran. Each group seemed to mimic 'starburst' fireworks once the Field Master released them; scattering to the four points of the compass. For once we had the perfect conditions - not too cold, no wind and an old grass turf to carry the scent. We knew that the aniseed was holding but it was obvious that with only having 3 workers, and therefore one in each group, they were not strong enough to pull the novices with them. We tried several things such as all the hounds walking the line on leads, running with them to try to draw them with us and relaying the line but to no avail.
Individually the workers Suki Trahearne, Riot McSheehy and Buster Forbes did all follow the lines but with so many inexperienced hounds it was hard to get them to join in. There were glimpses of some scenting but often it was short lived; Dulcet and Thyme Chapman and also Rufus McBain were some of the more notable triers.It is obviously a case of 'back to the drawing board'. If there any 'workers' out there who would like to come out again it would be great to see you!
The field retired with some members going on to lunch at the Somerford Arms in Little Somerford where they enjoyed a lovely meal with a super atmosphere and one of the most 'chilled' boxers ever.
Saturday Sept 19th 2010, Chainhurst, Kent
The 19th September 2010 saw the members of the Working Section meet for the first time this season. With the kind help of the Bolebrook Beagles we went draghunting at Chainhurst near Maidstone, Kent over a mixture of stubble and grass land alongside the River Beult.
It was mild and dry- a typical autumnal day but the hounds didn’t overheat. Before the 22 beagles moved off to the first field there was a chance to catch up on the summer news and meet the owners of the 8 new hounds over a glass of port with a variety of nibbles.
Often it takes a while to get the old hands back to the business of following the line and for the newcomers to understand that they are allowed, even encouraged, to run away from their owners, but this meet proved to be less chaotic than some. Nelson Antonsen and Folly Peach ably assisted by Magic and Indy Beaney, four of our established working certificate holders, were happy to be back in the field, following the aniseed lure and showing everybody how it is done. This left Buster Forbes and Riot McSheehy, the other workers, to bring up the rear and make sure that everybody returned.
One of our newcomers, Milo Barber, showed great promise but Daisy Terry had to be shown what to do by her owner running the line with her on the lead. Another first timer was Lily McBain who didn’t connect her Flag Judging success (where she won Best Bitch at the Beagle Club BBQ) with the drag itself - it shouldn’t take long. Missy Hankey, who just missed a Working Certificate at last season's trial, enjoyed showing Bertie Hankey how it was done, and by the last line, Bertie was doing it all by himself.
The final line of the day provided an opportunity to run the whole pack together, which was a wonderful way to end the meet. Once back at the cars, all the members had a chance to compare notes over the last of the nibbles.
Sunday Oct 3rd 2010, Greens Norton,
With cars piled high with wet weather gear and spare clothes the members of the Working Section gathered at one of their favourite venues; Greens Norton, Northamptonshire on 3rd October 2010.
The land, which is owned by Frank Henderson, is predominantly arable with the majority of the fields down to oilseed rape. We are very grateful that we are helped by Adam who gives up his Sunday to lay the lines for us using his quad bike.
There was a large pack of 30 beagles and their owners braving the rain and wind to go dragging at our second meet of the season. The recent heavy rain combined with some of the land having been just cultivated made the hounds work very hard. Some of our veterans decided that as they knew what they were doing they could take a shorter route round and still get a treat at the end.
We now have 3 new beagles that look very similar to the taller, rangier pack beagles and all of them worked the lines very well; Merlin Johnston was consistently searching out the line and the other 2 pack beagles, Ralph and Sniffs Millins, got the idea by the end of the meet.
Having run the entire field for the first line, the pack was split into 2 groups which makes identifying the individual hounds a lot simpler. There were 7 working certificate holders to show the others how it is done with Folly Peach storming round leading the first group in and for the second group Nubie Lehain with Bryn Richmond showing the way. Milo Barber, for whom this is his first season, continued his good record from our first meet 2 weeks ago.
As the morning progressed we were able to move on to some grass land which did a grand job of cleaning both boots and paws. Here the veterans Riot McSheehy and Tia Bidey were able to shine. For the final 2 lines all the hounds ran together. With a larger pack it was clear to see that some of the more timid novices and newcomers gained confidence from the increased number of experienced workers that drew them on to the line.
It was great to see the Haylocks out with their recently acquired beagle, Louis, who became brave enough to run the whole of the last few lines. It was then back to the cars and out with the towels to dry the hounds off before retiring to the village pub for lunch.
Saturday Oct 30 2010, Lewknor,
With the sun burning off the autumn mists and the trees wearing their best coats, a meet of the Beagle Club Working Section was held at Field Farm, Lewknor on 30th October 2010 with the kind permission of Murray Graham. There was an amazing turnout of 34 hounds and their owners who were split into two groups to follow the aniseed trail laid by Dan Cairns on his quad bike. For the first line all the beagles were let off in one large group, watching the whole pack stream round was a wonderful sight. When that number of individually owned hounds is doing what they were bred to do and looking like a pack it is a great thing. There was a slight pause in proceedings for the second line of the day when Dan had to try and find the end of the drag which had come adrift. After an unsuccessful search he made the ultimate sacrifice and gave up one of his socks as a replacement drag. That will be a pair of socks that the Working Section owes him now. As we moved further up the field it was easy to see that some of our newcomers were getting the idea. Ralph and Sniffs Millins were a good example, although if they lost the scent they would entertain each other before returning to their owner. Henry Cooke, who started dragging with us last season, has settled in and is showing us that he is working out what it is all about. Mind you there was a delay when he found something very special to roll in. We moved out of the young rape field and onto some grassland at the base of the escarpment. The line had a large loop in it and the first group got distracted and ended up finding the heel line and when they were nearly back to the start the majority of them dived through a hedge but soon returned to their owners. The second line on the pasture was a greater success with Merlin Johnston, in his first season, showing the group where the line was. Tosca Pottage who is one of our novice beagles, was also on good form. We moved back onto the rape field and as the rest of the group came in there was a beagle with a fast wagging tail that had clearly found something more interesting; this was soon identified as another of our promising novice hounds, Bussell Brown. She returned with the others on the next line which was the last line of the day. With the sun still warming us all many of us retired to the garden at the Old Leathern Bottle to have lunch.
Sunday 28th November 2010 Folkington Manor Farm,
A smaller group of Working Section members, and their hounds, met at Folkington Manor Farm near Polgate, East Sussex with the kind permission of Charles Harcourt-Smith on 28th November 2010. With the land silvered by frost as we set off it was a surprise to find a fair covering of snow on the Downs and for some of the young pups it was the first snow they had seen. We were able to run all 20 hounds on the first field although 50% of our workers, Indy and Magic Beaney, were a little distracted as their owner Adam had laid the line. We moved on up to the next field which was fairly steep and we split the beagles into 2 groups. It was great to see the brightly coloured coats against the snow as the hounds followed the line. Luckily they didn’t get distracted by the fox that had crossed the field 10 minutes earlier. Rosie McDonald was on fine form, showing her housemate, Dottie, how it should be done. There was a fair walk through the estate, passing a typical Downland church, to the next set of fields that were nestled at the base of the Downs. We paused to allow a family to finish sledging before laying the next line on the steep sides of the valley. There was a little confusion with the second group as the line was laid adjacent to a holding pen and Magic led a group the wrong side of the fence but soon showed the others the way back to the line. Our veteran worker, Riot McSheehy, showed everybody how the line went when we moved onto a field of turnips although many of his group cut a couple of corners. With the snow lying on the foliage it was easy for the humans to see where the line had been laid and also to see if the hounds where following it closely. Lily McBain, who won the Flag completion at the Beagle Club Barbeque in July, was showing some promising consistency as the morning wore on. Moving down the valley Buster Forbes decided that not having his treat at the end of the line was a small price to pay for getting the chance for a good sniff in the hedgerow. The final line of the day was the most successful with our newest member Sunny Barling getting the hang of it and also Louis Haylock running well. It was odd to see one of our honorary beagles, Rodney Beanie the collie, streaking ahead of the beagles but still following the line. The walk back to the cars was very picturesque with a pack of tired but happy hounds and their owners thinking about a well earned lunch at the Sussex Ox.
Sunday 2nd January 2011 Nurstead Court,
On 2nd January 2011 the Working Section held their first meet of the year at Nurstead Court, Meopham, Kent by kind permission of Guy Edmeades-Stern. This is a venue that the Bolebrook Beagles, who regularly help us through the season, also use.
A giant hole that had appeared overnight in the middle of Meopham caused a few members some problems in finding a way through the back lanes to join the other draggers.
For the first line of the day all the hounds were let off at the same time but chaos ensued. We gave them all the benefit of the doubt quoting the Christmas break and the lack of drags since the beginning of December.
The grassland that we run the lines on is also used for the Cross Country phase of the equine sport of eventing, so the turf provides a superb surface for the hounds to run on. For all but the first and last run of the day the pack of 28 hounds was split into 2 groups.
We had been joined by 3 beagles who regularly visit the venue when their owners see to their horses. This did not prove to be an advantage to them although they did enjoy having some company whilst they ran.
We also had three new draggers out for the first time, Chance & Bella Ayres-Cousins and Benson Matthews-Talbot. Chance got the hang of it and was often running the line well but his companion couldn’t work out why she had to run too! A couple of regulars, Kermit Scott and Bryn Richmond produced some very good performances, although Kermit did get a little distracted by a small wood that proved more interesting than the aniseed line.
We also had a few youngsters out and looking to join the pack; Maddie Forbes and Polly Ambridge ran some promising lines and both have housemates who drag but they were happy to go out on their own and have a go.
For 2 of the lines we moved to the top of the hill on to a young crop of rape. The going was very sticky as two of our line layers, Kore Antonsen and David Barber, found out when they had to carry half of the field on their boots. Luckily we were able to move back to the grass to end the day.
Once all the beagles had been gathered in, many of the members drove in convoy through the narrow lanes, avoiding the large hole in the road, to enjoy a sumptuous high tea at the kind invitation of Tessa and Donald Forbes. It gave everybody a chance to catch up on holiday news over a plate of chilli con carne and many generously donated puddings and cakes.
Sunday 16th January 2011, Blewbury,
With the wind getting ever stronger the Working Section of the Beagle Club drove up to the top of the downs above Blewbury, Oxfordshire on 16th January 2011.
We were able to use the gallops and arable land by kind permission of Mrs. Eve Johnson-Houghton. There was a record turnout of over 40 hounds and their owners, endeavouring to stand upright in the wind and praying that the gathering clouds wouldn’t open. We were very lucky that Dan Cairns was able to bring his quad bike to lay the lines as we had to split the beagles in to 3 groups. Having the quad enabled us to lay enough lines to let every hound run plenty of times and it also meant that the owners didn’t have to stand around for too long.
In a brave move for the first line the Field Master, David McSheehy decided to run all the beagles together. For this meet we had 9 hounds that held working certificates so there were plenty of experienced dogs to show all the newcomers how to run the lines. To help the ‘workers’ we also had half a dozen novices that are showing great promise and we look forward to seeing them later in the season at the trials.
For the rest of the morning the lines were run in groups. With the wind being so strong the first group that took the line struggled to follow it but the second group had an even harder time. The scent was pushed quite a distance and often the hounds didn’t pick up the line until they hit the final part and then proceeded to run a perfect heel line.
Merlin Johnson was running well with his new partner in crime, Poppy, who for a ‘first timer’ ran very well. Another first timer pairing was Izzy and Pepper Keyte who seemed to enjoy their day out and the younger Pepper started to get the hang it quite early on.
We only had one beagle, Skittle Biddulph, who got a little distracted on an earlier line and had to be fetched back from his little adventure but then he became a reformed character for the rest of the day. It was good to see Sukie Fernie back and leading her group in as did our ‘working’ bitches Folly Cairns and Tia Bidey.
There was a long walk back up the gallops but luckily the wind helped by pushing us back up the hill and the grass cleaned the dog’s paws beautifully. Many of the draggers retired to the George and Dragon in Upton to have a fortifying tipple before wending their way home.
Sunday 30th January 2011, Manor Farm, Lenborough,
The sun was valiantly trying to break through the clouds as the working section of the Beagle Club ventured into the first field at Manor Farm in Lenborough, Buckinghamshire on 30th January 2011.
We had been invited by Mr Robin Brazier to bring our hounds to follow the aniseed lines very kindly laid by Dan Cairns and his quad bike. Before we started we held a one minute silence in memory of Honor Eades, who sadly passed away recently, in recognition of her time with the Working Section.
For the first line, all the hounds split into two groups with half of them following the heel line and the others going the correct way led by Folly Cairns and Bryn Richmond. There was a slight pause whilst a couple of beagles found a very interesting sniff. A second line was laid in the lower part of the field and the hounds ran in their separate groups. Group A must have caught the scent of the first line and very conscientiously carried on and did that one again.
As we moved further down the hill we saw two hares run from the adjacent field but luckily their scent had dispersed by the time we used that land and our beagles concentrated on the aniseed instead. Dan began to make things more interesting by adding some dog legs to the line so that we could see who was truly following the scent.
In the early part of the meet the Group B hounds were running very well with Buster Forbes, Tia Bidey and Bryn leading the pack in. When the sun came out and warmed the grass the aniseed was proving easy to follow and some of our novices and newcomers were running very well, especially Hoy McSheehy, Summer Emberton and Merlin Johnson.
This changed as we moved to some smaller fields and Group A started to work better with Suki Fernie and Kermit Scott helping Folly to bring the others in on the line. Although at one point Barney McBain and Sunny Barling had a lovely time playing in the centre of the field while the others were running on the scent.
Poppy Johnson proved to be too much of a distraction for Louis Haylock who thought that hers was a far better scent to follow even if it meant going out of the field, luckily she is proving to be very good even though it was only her second meet and she bought Louis back each time. Two other hounds who were putting in good performances were newcomer Polly Ambridge and novice Krafty Kimber. To end a very successful meet we ran all the beagles together and probably had the most chaotic line of the day with Merlin going off on a little jaunt and Buster being harangued by his sister Filly and housemate Maddie.
Looking back on the lines it seemed that the early lines were much longer and it made the hounds concentrate, and therefore, work far better.
Don't forget to look at the photographs that Ian Bidey has taken so far this season. There is a link on the Working Section pages on the Beagle Club website. If you see one that you like he will sell you a copy with the profits going to Beagle Welfare.