Today I spoke to John Holliday, Huntsman of the Belvoir Hunt. Due to lockdown I was unable to visit him and his hounds, however I look forward to in the future. George Gunn and Nico Morgan have both saved me on this article, by providing a lovely pictures of John.
So let's see what John's answers were to my questions!
How long have you been with the Belvoir Hunt, and where were you before? - 'This is my eleventh season at Belvoir, previously I spent fourteen years hunting the Ledbury hounds. I whipped-in at the Quorn, Belvoir and Braes of Derwent. As a boy I helped at the Cumberland Farmers kennels.'
Have you always hunted? What is your earliest hunting memory? - ' I’ve hunted from an early age, my Grandfather and (Great) Uncle used to follow the Ullswater, they were great days, many adults one knew had lived through or were born during the Great War, many more had fought in WW2, those wonderful characters, the like of which we will never see again, are a large part of my earliest hunting memories. My earliest memory of hunting on a pony is being run away with through Greystoke forest whilst out with the Cumberland Farmers!'
What was the name of the ’naughtiest’ horse you’ve ever ridden, and why? - 'The naughtiest horse I’ve ever had was called Edward. He was beautiful, but wouldn't do the ridden part off Working Hunter, just planted him-self and wouldn’t move, no-one could cure him, so I got him, it was last chance saloon! You couldn’t lead him any where, he just ran off. He wouldn’t load onto the lorry… Until he felt like it. You couldn't lead him from another horse or ride him on his own. If you turned him out you couldn't catch him (ever) And if you took him visiting you couldn't hold one side of him. In short he was the most cussed horse that ever ate an oat. However, he loved hounds, would go anywhere with them and jump absolutely anything you pointed him at. Anything. And was consequently one of my best ever.'
What is your favourite hunting memory? - 'I have too many to list! Finishing a great day with the Cumberland Farmers, in the pitch dark, lying under the hedge with hounds to keep warm whilst waiting for the box. I was about 15 and that moment "sealed the deal" as to my future career. That's up there with them.'
What is the advice you would give to the next generation of keen hunters? - 'Enjoy every moment, it’s later than you think!'
I cannot thank John enough for answering my questions. I look forward to visiting him and his team next season, all being well. Keep your eyes peeled for my next article, something along the same lines but a little different!
Nico Morgan - www.nicomorgan.com
George Gunn - www.georgegunn.com