For those who do not know him, Martin Scott is an extraordinary man. As well as being a true and dedicated Foxhunter, he is probably the only person I know who has a complete encyclopaedic brain of the breeding of the Modern English Foxhound. There is no one quite like him when the time comes that you need to tap into his great depth of knowledge which he has of their breeding and also the attributes of each and every generation. Foxhounds are interesting enough animals in themselves but to see how they have evolved over the years is quite fascinating, and there is no one who takes this more seriously than he does. In a way this is somewhat understandable as his own pedigree shows a considerable commitment from his forebears to the breeding top class hounds. His Great Uncle Charles Scott, was Master of the North Cotswold and his father Bill, hunted the United, Portman, North Cotswold, West Waterford, the Portman again, and lastly the Old Berks. It was in his father’s day at the North Cotswold that the famous stallion hound North Cotswold Landlord ’44 was bred.
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A former Master of the Tiverton and the VWH, Martin has been responsible for breeding two exceptional packs of hounds, both of whom have excelled over the years in their work and good looks. He would, I am sure, very much agree with the saying “ You can have an ugly pack of hounds and they will hunt their heart out for you, and you can have a beautiful pack of hounds and they won’t hunt a yard. However is it not of great reward to be able to say, that you have been able to achieve the combination of both”. Not many have deserved that recognition but he certainly has. It is in the getting there that is the challenge and a real challenge at that.
The VWH are the best example of Martin Scott’s work and this is demonstrated by the fact that the sixty couple of hounds all go back in their breeding, like the majority of Kennels in England, to just three tail male lines. Firstly Glog Nimrod 1904 which he describes as his Welsh line. The second which Martin rates as probably the most popular, goes directly to Mr Meynell’s Quorn Stormer 1791 and the last is one to Brocklesby Bumper 1743.
So how is this all achieved and put into practice? It comes down to real attention to detail and it is where the term “Line Breeding” comes in. To quote Martin, “this is done to create and maintain a level pack of hounds which can run up together, avoid dividing and on arriving at a check together, soon resolve the situation by putting themselves right. It is no good them being strung out like a washing line!” This will ensure as little time as possible is lost and the hunt will be able to continue to what is hoped would be a successful conclusion. Once one has established these lines in your mind, it is easy enough to get to know them and is very rewarding to watch your pack develop.
To explain a little further about what Line Breeding actually is might help us understand what is going through Martin’s mind, in the plans he makes for the VWH Hounds. It is a multiplication of the good names in the pedigree of the Sire and Dam in the fourth generation and therefore is a form of in breeding, so it is important to never get any closer than that. Equally remember it is best to avoid putting a dog to a bitch which share the same tail and female line. There are of course many benefits to this form of breeding, uniformity being one. Having your pack covered by the proverbial pocket handkerchief is an achievement any true hunting man dreams about. Seeing your hounds running up together on a cold winter’s evening with a frost coming in and a rare scent is often where the best hounds are very quickly discovered.
Many others like me have been fortunate enough over the years to have received some of Martin’s draft hounds and we must remember with gratitude the help he generously gave us. Not only in getting us going but also by giving us invaluable advice how to create a sensible breeding policy. The hounds that we received were just what we required and soon fitted in to our respective kennels.
So, whether we hunt to ride or ride to hunt, or like me are a humble car follower, it is important to remember what we owe Martin. We cannot go hunting without a pack of hounds in front of us that is for certain, and for someone to have selflessly dedicated themselves over the years to the science of their breeding and their welfare, is no mean feat. Without doubt, the Foxhound as a breed is far the better for Martin Scott’s input.