Category Archives: Hunt

Four Shires Bloodhounds meet at Hoe Grange 2019

January weather is usually cold and frosty, but this winter has been extremely mild and dry. However, the weather last Sunday for The Four Shires Bloodhounds meet here at Hoe Grange was extremely wild and windy!

Four Shires Bloodhounds

The Four Shires Bloodhound Hunt is so called as it covers the shires of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and South Yorkshire. It attracts riders of all abilities and ages who enjoy cross country riding whilst tracking the scent of a human runner. Welcoming all, the hunt have a second field for novices and less confident riders who prefer to take the course gently or avoid the jumps.

The Hounds

Did you know that Bloodhounds have a highly developed sense of smell, up to 800 times great than other dogs? That is why they make such superb hunting animals. Bloodhounds were originally bred for hunting deer and wild boar, and since the Middle Ages for tracking people. This breed is famed for its ability to distinguish human scent over great distances, even days later.

Four Shires Bloodhounds

However the forceful cross winds on Sunday meant the scent of the runners drifted and the hounds were working quite wide of the trail. Things were a little chaotic at times as the hounds couldn’t hear the huntsmen calling them either!

On the top fields of our farm it was quite difficult to stay upright on your feet – I don’t know how the riders stayed on their horses – horses tails, hounds ears, riders jackets and hat covers were flapping and flying about!

Master Huntsman Chris Kane had trouble gathering the pack together on the tops but was ably assisted by his wife Deb and the other Whipper-Ins.

Four Shires hunt

 

The Quarry

The human runner or “quarry” was Paddy Wright who is a Derbyshire Cross Country Champion and fitness instructor. Being a runner over our hilly Peak District terrain is not for the faint hearted and you certainly need to be extremely fit to keep ahead of the hounds!

This year Paddy was joined by Tom Ough, a journalist from the Daily Telegraph, who drew the short straw; his editors wanted an article on what it is really liked to be chased by a pack of hounds!

Tom’s experience is to be featured in The Telegraph next Sunday – I wonder if he will mention losing his trainer – the mud in Derbyshire can be extremely sticky!Runner

 

Hunting with bloodhounds is often referred to as hunting the “clean boot”, although the runners shoes are definitely far from clean by the end of the day!

Tom was nervous about being caught by the pack, but he needn’t have worried. Bloodhounds are large but very gentle-natured and despite their name the runner suffers nothing more than a few licks!

bloodhounds catch runner

The cross country course

The course averages 12 or 15 miles and is a pre-planned route so that the hunt can avoid worrying sheep and cattle or damaging crops. The runner can also adapt the route if he spots any unforeseen dangers. The route is split up into shorter sections called lines to allow the huntsmen to collect the hounds and the runner to get ahead.

People often think that Bloodhounds started being used after the ban on fox hunting. This is certainly not the case. The Bloodhounds have been hunting across the Derbyshire countryside for many years. The famous Mitford sisters enjoyed hunting and it is only fitting that Duchess of Devonshire is the current President of the Four Shires Bloodhounds.

I didn’t ride Oliver this year as he gets over excited with so many horses and the baying hounds – hounds, horses and humans all love a good day out in the countryside as you can see from the photos on our Facebook page.

The video below explains more about the Four Shires Bloodhounds and how Ellie from Countryfile also found being the human quarry a tough job!

Felicity 

Hunting the “clean boot”

Sunday was a clear dry day for the 4 Shires Bloodhounds meet here at Hoe Grange in the spectacular Peak District countryside.

4 Shires BloodhoundsWe often have horses staying on holiday, but thankfully not quite so many at one time – it was a little chaotic in our yard as everyone was saddling up ready for the off and slurping the port.

the runner is chased by bloodhounds
The “quarry” getting his final instructions

Hunting the clean boot refers to the hounds working the natural scent of a human runner over a 12 to 20 mile course. This differs from a drag hunt where a very strong scent is laid which often means the hounds tend to race along at great speed. When following a human scent the hounds have to work the scent to distinguish it from other smells and are therefore slower. Once they get the scent they start singing – it’s an amazing sound to hear them in full cry.

The other advantage is that because the route is preplanned the hunt can avoid livestock, newly seeded fields or crops and the runner can adapt the route if he spots any unforeseen dangers.

The Four Shires Bloodhound Hunt covers the shires of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and South Yorkshire. It attracts riders of all abilities and ages and there is a second field for novices and less confident riders who prefer to take the course gently or avoid the jumps.

Bloodhound howling
Waiting for the off – when can we get going!

It really is a magnificent sight to watch with the horses, beautifully turned out, galloping across the farm after these large Bloodhounds in full cry as they pick up the scent of the human quarry. This year they brought out 17 couples (34 hounds) so as you can imagine The Master Huntsman, Chris Kane, had his hands full trying to keep them all in order!

The runner covered in mud
Not so clean boots now!

The hounds are bred for their agility, stamina and their “nose” and the term Bloodhound refers to their bloodlines not their taste for blood! When the hounds catch up with the runner he suffers nothing more than a few licks! However his boots are far from clean at the end of the day!

With our hilly terrain and a route of 15 miles or so  the runner has to be extremely fit to dash up such steep hills and down dales to avoid getting caught by the hounds in hot pursuit – no boring trips to the gym needed for him!

4 Shires Bloodhounds return home
All safely back home

A good day was had by all and you can see more photos on our Facebook page.

Felicity

Four Shires meet at Hoe Grange

Perfect weather here in the Peak District for the Four Shires Bloodhounds meet at Hoe Grange. A sharp frost followed by glorious winter sunshine meant that the going was perfect for both the human “quarry” (very fit runners) and the horses.

bloodhounds
Bloodhounds gathered ready for the off

This year Felicity bravely followed the bloodhounds riding Oliver, who was very excitied by the whole event, the number of horses turning up in his yard, the baying cry of the hounds and the sound of the huntsman’s horn as everyone set off. Despite not being as fit as all the other horses Oliver was keen to keep up over the 10 mile trail and even came trotting back into the yard at the end of the day.

hunting with The Four ShiresHunting is a very old English tradition and it really is a magnificent sight to watch with the horses, beautifully turned out, galloping across the farm after these large Bloodhounds in full cry as they pick up the scent of the human quarry.

the runners

 

With our hilly terrain and a route of 10 or so miles the runners have to be extremely fit to dash up the steep Derbyshire hills and down dales to avoid getting caught by the hounds in hot pursuit – no boring trips to the gym needed !

 

bloodhounds find the quarryHunting with Bloodhounds is known as hunting the clean boot. Unlike a drag hunt which uses a pre-laid scent the Bloodhounds work the scent of a human quarry or runner over the fields. Bloodhound refers to the bloodlines not their taste for blood, so fortunately when the hounds find the runners (or anyone else for that matter), they are more likely to be licked than savaged by these friendly dogs !

mud splattered horse As you can see by Oliver’s mud splattered face a good day was had by all. I am sure I shall be a little stiff in the morning!

 

More photos on our Facebook page.

Felicity

 

 

hounds in full cry

How to catch the quarry!

4 Shires Bloodhounds
Bloodhounds ready for the off

Sunday was a fabulous clear day with plenty of sunshine for the 4 Shires Bloodhounds meet here at Hoe Grange in the spectacular Peak District countryside.

We often have horses staying on holiday, but thankfully not quite so many at one time – it was a little chaotic in our yard as everyone was saddling up ready for the off and slurping the port.

It really is a magnificent sight to watch with the horses, beautifully turned out, galloping across the farm after these large Bloodhounds in full cry as they pick up the scent of the human quarry.

Bloodhound
keen & waiting for the signal from the huntsman

Hunting with Bloodhounds is known as hunting the clean boot. Unlike a drag hunt which uses a pre-laid scent the Bloodhounds work the scent of a human quarry or runner over the fields. Bloodhound refers to the bloodlines not their taste for blood, so fortunately when the hounds find the runner he is more likely to be licked than savaged by these friendly dogs !

With our hilly terrain and a route of 15 or so miles the runner has to be extremely fit to dash up such steep hills and down dales to avoid getting caught by the hounds in hot pursuit – no boring trips to the gym needed for him!

Judging by the amount of mud splattered over both riders and horses on their return to our yard a good day was had by all!

More photos on our Facebook page.

Felicity

Bloodhounds setting off
Setting off from Hoe Grange yard

galloping horses
Tally Ho and off into the distance

Oliver the Superstar!

Rosettes from the Hartington Wakes Sports and ShowOliver and Felicity had great success at Hartington Wakes Sports and Show this weekend, coming away with a 1st in the Cob Class, a 3rd in the Riding Club Horse Class and a Reserve Champion ribbon!

Great fun was had by all – even David, who was acting as the groom for the day and had to do all the dirty work. Oliver didn’t put a hoof wrong and behaved really well until they met the hunt on the ride home – he got a bit over-excited and arrived home steaming.

Now the rosettes are decorating the beam in the kitchen, taking their place next to last year’s haul.

What a clever pony! Well done to Felicity too!

Horse and rider at Hartington Show

Caroline

Painted Tales

This week we attended the preview of an inspiring art exhibition of “Painted Tales” by our great friend Sue Prince. Sue’s exhibition showcases her fabulous and distinctive ‘bonader’ Swedish style folk art, painted with homemade egg tempera on linen or canvas.

Artist Sue Prince

The word “Bonader” means decorative wall hanging and these traditional paintings were common in rural southern Sweden in the late 1700’s to brighten up the dark, smoky interiors of the small farmhouses around Christmas and winter festivals. Inspired by a visit to Unnaryd in 2004, Sue studied and began creating her own story-telling paintings using the traditional methods, and mixing natural pigments with egg yolks – Sue has since been instrumental in the revival of this ancient folk art in Sweden today.

Sue definitely has a passion for painting, but each painting is also a narrative where the words are just as important as the images.

“I am passionate about the landscape, the environment and rural way of life and I tell stories about these in my paintings. I am excited by the links between people and their environment, whether it’s rural or urban and re-making connections with the planet through pictures and storytelling. I also tell stories of modern society through folk art, currently I am inspired by protests”.

Being a farmer’s wife Sue’s paintings often depict rural life, with plenty of farm animals and wildlife, but also local Derbyshire events and customs. You can see more of Sue’s paintings at the “Painted Tales” exhibition at the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery from now until 22nd September, or visit Sue Prince Artist website (her photos are much better than mine!)

Felicity

Sue Prince Bonader art

Hawk eye!

Rodent control can be a challenge on a farm. Keeping down the rabbit population to a healthy level is always a challenge, but at Hoe Grange we have an unusual  solution to the problem. Stuart has been flying his birds of prey here for years, today he brought his female Goshawk and Stuart’s friend brought along a male.

Falconry is a very technical operation as the birds will only hunt when they are the correct weight; a few ounces over and they will go to roost, a little under and they don’t have the  strength to fly. The Birtish Falconers Club has lots of information on the ancient art of faclonry and the conservation of birds of prey.

Stuart with his female Goshawk
Stuart with his female Goshawk

Male Goshawk
Male Goshawk

As well as these visiting trained birds of prey we also have a healthy population of Buzzards and Red Kites have been seen in the trees over the road.

Fortunately birds of prey are becoming more common in the Derbyshire Peak District, as conservation farming methods are being widely adopted. Practices such as leaving small areas uncultivated which gives better cover for the birds and provides a natural habitat for their prey, allowing them to thrive.

Larger birds can even be used to control foxes as a trained eagle can easily take out an adult fox, particularly the older or sick animals who tend to be the ones who prey on small lambs and sheep.

This may seem cruel, but the population left behind are stronger and more healthy, where as reducing numbers by shooting is less selective.

It is a real thrill to see the birds in flight, swooping down with such speed and accuracy, they are amazingly swift yet graceful.

David

4 Shires Hunt meet at Hoe Grange

Four Shires Bloodhoounds setting off
Four shires bloodhounds up the hill

Sunday was a fabulous clear day with plenty of sunshine for the 4 Shires Blood Hounds meet here at Hoe Grange in the spectacular Peak District countryside. We are used to horses staying here on holiday, but not quite so many at one time, and it was wonderful to watch them galloping across the farm fields.

It really is a magnificent sight with the horses, beautifully turned out, galloping after these large bloodhounds in full cry as they pick up the scent of the human runner.

beautiful bloodhounds waiting for the off
beautiful bloodhounds waiting for the off

I am amazed by the runner, Roy Hollins, who must be extremely fit to run up such steep hills and down dales at a fast pace to avoid getting caught by the hounds in hot pursuit. The runner did admit that training on a treadmill was far easier and nothing like being out on our rough terrain.

The hounds had a few difficulties with the scent in some fields due to recent harrowing and muck spreading activities, but soon picked up the trail again. Fortunately the hounds are well behaved and don’t eat the runner when they do catch up!

You can see some of the days action by watching our video below created by our son Elliot.

Felicity