How do you start an article about the oldest and most established pack of foxhounds? I for one don’t think I can….
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As 1st whipper-in to the Quorn, and five months into my forth season here, I am still awestruck by the sheer class that the three hundred and seventeen year old establishment provides for its farmers, subscribers, foot followers and of course, staff.
Settling in after a few weeks of moving, with my partner Lucinda (now the honourable Mrs Winnington), it became apparent that working for Mr Peter Collins would certainly be an entertaining season; I thought that following in the footsteps of the previous whip, Daniel Cherriman would probably see me out of the door after one season, but four seasons on I’m still here and learning every day off of an incredible source of knowledge, professionalism and entertainment! I must say that I endeavour to carry the same reputation he holds now when I am thirty plus years into my career.
The summers here offer a fantastic opportunity also for socialising with masters, huntsmen and fellow whips when they visit the kennels (and of course former masters come web designers; Mr Barclay). As the Quorn kennels were relocated in 1990, it is a very modern and impressive sight to behold, one that regularly gets visits from, as mentioned previously; other hunts, military personnel, young farmers and the French…
After my first opening meet, which resembled a scene from Gladiator, and still the Mondays and Fridays often do, with Air Ambulances a common occurrence; it amazes me how ever increasingly popular hunting is, regardless that fox hunting is banned by legislation and a broken law, the adopted trail hunting has captured many new followers that would undoubtedly follow back into the transition of fox hunting when it is legalised once again.
The Quorn has a fantastic variety of hunt country to follow; the Mondays and Fridays are rolling valleys of grass and hedgerows in which the hunt has earned its reputation. Tuesdays or “forest” days are, well, forest days and the Saturdays are a different again with alot of arable and stubble throughout the season.
An oft topic that is brought up among my fellow whippers-in is the importation of the French bloodline that are now well established within the Quorn kennels; due to the overpowering enthusiasm from Mr Hanbury; my senior master. The French bitches have without doubt proved very successful for both Mr Collins and Mr Hanbury as they have injected a quality of size and build that a stale pool couldn’t provide, so the risk of bringing in foreign blood has certainly paid off if you were to look at a comparison of before and after.
Over my four seasons here, the cross that has become either famous or infamous among devout hound breeders is that of the wolf cross we have here in kennels. The bitch that was brought over from France, a quarter wolf; her offspring an eighth and theirs a sixteenth, all based in kennels are, like marmite to the hound breeder, but one thing cannot be denied and that is the sheer drive and talent these hounds have for picking up a scent and hunting it!
I don’t often get a chance to look back and reflect on the things that I have done whilst here, but writing this article, as short and sweet as it may be, reminds me why I do the job that I do…For the love of hunting England; it’s the hounds, horses and the people that support it.