As my photography course came to an end, the following day I decided to travel up through the Principality to see my good friends Jim and Pauline Meads. They had moved many years ago to Carno from Westbury in the Grafton Country. Driving through some stunning scenery my mind seemed to be on hunting all the way! Funny that! Having taken a good pub lunch, Jim decided that a quick visit to the David Davies Kennels was the order of the day. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me so couldn’t capture the wonderful sight that met me, a pack of hounds which totally epitomised the Welsh breed – tough looking and rough coated with a beauty of their own. There was a small percentage of Fell blood in amongst them but predominantly their breeding which those from the Principality are justly proud. What I saw that day indeed set off a whole thinking process about the breeding of the Foxhound and believe it is a subject we can discuss in detail later.
This is not private pack nowadays but as the name suggests it very much owes its existence to the Davies Family and their predecessors going back to 1905. It is a wild country and where hunting is looked upon as part of everyday life. There are large areas of open hill as well as heavily wooded valleys which make it all the more interesting a place to hunt. If my memory serves me correctly from my previous visit, I believe there are large parts which are smothered in rhododendrons and gorse making it extra hard work for Hounds.
Being deeply rural here it is a place where tolerance to those who have differing views about hunting are not appreciated and understandably so. They have great affection for their Welsh Hounds and the job they do. Nobody with any sense should be foolish enough to even think about interfering with them.
We did not stay long as it was their Puppy Show that evening. However I was left with a very distinct impression that when hunting up together in those deep valleys, these hounds are a force to be reckoned with and have a cry as memorable as any of the best Welsh choirs! It was fascinating to hear more about the attributes of the Welsh Hound from their Huntsman Stephen Bradley and how different they are in every way to the English Foxhound.
I had been to the Kennels once before when the long serving and successful Huntsman David Jones was in office. Now, after these two visits, it is far easier to understand why the great English hound breeders of years gone by decided to cross the Welsh with the pure English Hound. In the early twenties Mr Curre’s Danger, Brecon Paragon and Carmarthenshire Nimrod were the foundation sires of what was to become the Modern English Foxhound. Both my Great Grandfather initially and then my Grandfather, resisted the pressure of change right up until 1962. Indeed up to the early fifties they, like others, had still been winning at Peterborough with their pure English types. Nowadays though, the modern hound is more fashionable than the pure English hound so it has become necessary for them to be shown separately. For this reason Harrogate has special prizes for Pure English hounds and Peterborough runs a separate Show for them. Like everything though, the circle keeps turning and many packs are reverting to pure English breeding again. This is because increasing number of breeders believe that the modern foxhound is becoming too small!
This is a very in depth subject and is something which we should explore further. My intention is now to have a day with a totally pure English pack and the very next to go out with a pure Welsh pack. My trip to the David Davies has certainly prompted some questions that need answering and where better place to air them! All this will fit nicely with the future writings of two well known Huntsman, Joe Townsend, Huntsman of the Hurworth which are pure English and Mark Powell, Joint Master and Huntsman of the Brecon and Talybont. Both have a considerable amount of experience with their type of Hound so I very much look forward to sharing this with you.