News & Events

Featured Article 01

'HuntsMan's Hints' by Roddy Bailey

The following is an edited extract from ‘Hunting Hints & Breeding Thoughts’ by Roddy Bailey published in 2017. [Read full article (PDF)]

The following are just hints for a huntsman based on my own experiences. These are my views not necessarily those of the IMFHA and they may not be shared by all. There is no blue print for handling a pack of hounds but perhaps my greatest mentor was Kilkenny born Tom Cody who hunted the Bramham Moor Hounds for more years than I care to count. It is important to remember hunting in Ireland is similar but not the same as Britain which is where I learnt my trade. Some aspects I mention may not apply to somebody hunting hounds where access for the huntsman is not as ‘manicured’ as it is in many (but not all) English countries. For example, in Ireland coverts rarely have ‘rides’ so the hunt staff cannot get about readily. Often, to get out of covert onto a fox’s line is a major undertaking perhaps involving the negotiation of several thick banks which takes time. Hardly ever is the Irish huntsman faced with the ease of two hunt jumps and a wicket gate and he is away.

A terrierman is essential. Properly conducted terrier work is vital to competent foxhunting. As regards the huntsman or kennel huntsman the saying that ‘if you want to breed a pack of hounds first breed your huntsman’ is true of both breeding and hound handling. I will leave the complexities of terrier work, earth stopping and country organisation to others. You can’t go foxhunting without foxes so love and respect the fox as a worthy and honoured quarry and not as a sorry pest. The welfare aspects of kennels are well covered by the Hunting Association of Ireland’s Guidelines for Hunt Kennels in Ireland published in 2007. Martin Letts’s Notes From a Hound Man is invaluable to the huntsman be he/she honorary or professional, and the ‘honorary’ should aspire to be as professional as his or her skills allow. I have incorporated some of Martin’s advice in this article. No huntsman should take to the field without consuming the short but essential Goodall’s Practice - advice such as that booklet contains doesn’t come better. Since the performance of a pack of hounds is firstly handling and secondly breeding I have tried to remember some pointers that helped me provide some fun for those who love hunting.

Handling. I learnt hounds should be on a loose rein as much as possible; any fool can hold a pack behind but it takes an artist to have them in front on a ‘thread’. This is achieved by skill at hound exercise and in the kennel using its layout to advantage. One famous huntsman believed hounds should be treated like ladies i.e. kennel gates opened for them and then hounds invited through. Young hounds coming in from walk must receive attention from that moment onwards. This is part of their formative period. They must not be neglected until hunting has finished. Hounds are intelligent individuals and should be treated as such. They should spend the maximum amount of time outside kennels and be exercised at least twice daily and it should be fun for them. The timing of exercise and walking out should be the same each day - hounds thrive on routine. .... Read full article (PDF)

Exercise and walking out ‘should be fun for them’. Walking Out 1994.

On the road. ‘It is often appropriate for the whipper-in to be in front of the huntsman’. Morpeth First Whipper In and Kennel Huntsman Sandy Wilson in front and the Huntsman behind. (2003). Photo: Trevor Meeks.

Featured Article 02

'Some Breeding Thoughts on the Foxhound' by Roddy Bailey

I hope these pointers help huntsmen throughout Ireland. Many of these ideas were learnt from foxhunters far and wide but special place must be given to Kilkenny born Tom Cody of the Bramham Moor. Rarely was a professional huntsman ‘of the old school’ more forgiving of a boy on a bicycle. It is often interesting to read of other people’s experiences and maybe these thoughts might be informative as well. Some may disagree with parts. Healthy debate helps the sport we all love and there is no blue print for breeding hounds.

Many hunting friends helped me with these suggestions although the content is my fault entirely.
Roddy Bailey. [View full article (PDF)]

Essential Elements

In order to breed any pack of hounds the following elements are essential:
• To breed a pack of hounds first secure the support of the person looking after them.
• Have an accurate hound list showing all hounds in the kennel by age, sex, sire and dam. A summary by year and sex is usually necessary. See sample.
• Have a list of all the bitches showing their date of previous ‘seasons’ and the date when each bitch is forecast next to come into season.
• Maintain all the pedigrees of each hound to at least six generations. See the ‘line bred’ example illustrated.
• Have access to the British MFHA Hound Breeding web site and learn to use the ‘trial mating’ option (Username and password needed). All foxhounds bred in Ireland are in the British maintained Foxhound Kennel Stud Book which is the source for the MFHA web site.
• Know the type of hound the huntsman/handler prefers ie Modern or ‘Old English’ foxhound.
• Know the foxhound tradition of the kennel ie Modern or ‘Old English’ foxhound.
• Have a secure kennel with continuity in hunt management.

Without the above the hound breeder cannot begin.

Note: These thoughts are mostly confined to the Stud Book Foxhound (Modern or ‘Old English’) although the principles apply to other working hounds.

Chance Breeding v Line Breeding

Many hunts select a good doghound and a good bitch and use them. This method can produce an odd good foxhound but it is ‘chance breeding’. You end up with a pack of individuals and their conformation faults mean more hounds have to be kept to cover frequent lameness and the pack tends to be less effective in the field. The aim of the hound breeder is to produce a ‘level’ (ie uniform make and shape) pack of hounds that are athletic and work as a team. Hound colour should play no part unless the kennel wishes to maintain a ‘colour’ tradition. The better their conformation the less the hound takes out of itself. Therefore it is able to continue effectively when other hounds are tired often producing successful hunts at the end of a four hour hunting day. The breeder should use hounds with qualities of nose, cry, stamina, fox sense, temperament and drive and this requires breeding from known hounds with these requisite characteristics. Such ‘known’ hounds need not be current performers; the breeder may wish to breed back to hounds of the past whose families were renowned foxhounds. Moreover such athletic hounds have the ability to turn out two or three times a week and their soundness means they rarely go lame. An economic advantage of a pack of well put together hounds is the hunt need not keep so many hounds since soundness results in fewer hounds being lame. There is no point in keeping a hound that can only go out once a week. The way to produce this all round athletic team of hounds with good qualities hunting two or three days a week is by line breeding not chance breeding. Line breed for work and voice, breed more than you want to allow some selection and get them as good looking as possible.

What is meant by Line Breeding?

Line breeding is a form of close breeding and therefore great care must be taken by the breeder. How do we go about doing this? The most important part when selecting a hound to breed from is that he/she and all the family must be good workers. It follows that kennels should not breed from a hound that is too young (nor too old).

[View full article (PDF)]

Example of a Line Bred Old English type foxhound. Waterford Panther ’09. Photo: R Markham.

Example of a Line Bred ‘Modernised’ Old English type foxhound. Sir Watkin Williams - Wynn’s Parker ’08. Photo: Richard Tyacke MFH

Example of a Line Bred Modern foxhound. VWH Smiler ’09 (Peterborough Bitch Champion 2010). Photo: Martin Scott & Jim Meads.

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