On arriving at the kennels, I was presented a cup of tea by Heidi (Chris West’s Partner). From this point on I knew it was going to be an enjoyable day.
I arrived as Kennel Huntsman – Chris West and Whipper inn - Aiden Tummey were getting their kit together for their day’s hunting. They showed fantastic teamwork and it was a testament to the remarkable working relationship they had. Hounds were loaded closely followed by beautifully turned-out horses. Soon after they left for the Shropshire hills. Henry Bailey, Huntsman and Master of the Ludlow met the hunt lorry at the meet. He checked his hounds over as well as the horses and before long they were off up the hill. Henry showed fine confidence in his team and led the way, with Chris and Aiden following closely behind, ensuring all the hounds were kept at bay. There were few opportunities to observe the hunt as they were on top of the moors, but when they were finally sighted from time to time, they were increasingly muddier and muddier!
On arriving back at the lorry, landowners and farmers were thanked, horses were checked over and hounds were counted back onto the lorry before the boys headed back to the kennels, Mars Bar in hand. Milly Hyde (Stud Groom) met the lorry at the stables, loading them off and again checking the over. There is a remarkable connection between her and the horses, which becomes apparent when they see her. Bathed, rugged up and fed it was time for bed.
While Milly and a small team of volunteers were cleaning the tack off, Chris and Aiden were busy in the kennels. As the hounds ate their well-deserved dinner, the boys cleaned the muddy boots and coats. Before long the hounds were tucked up and the hunt staff had definitely their earned beer.
In my few hours at the kennels there was a clear sense of community between everyone. It was lovely to see Archie (Chris and Heidi’s 2-year-old son) helping out his daddy in the kennels.