Another early start, but one that was worth it! I visited the Hampshire Hunt on the last day they completed their mounted exercise on the hunt horses before they were turned out for their slightly longer holiday in the field. I was made welcome in the kennels, greeted by Simon Dunn (Professional Huntsman) and Joshua Slade (Kennel-man) as they went through their morning work.
Joshua, who had been a kennel-man for the last two seasons at Hampshire, took up riding in Lockdown 2.0 with the help of Mr Dunn. Since then, he has become a keen horseman, helping with exercise and ensuring that the younger hounds learn how to act as a hound. Although he is yet to have a day mounted out hunting, I am sure before long, we will see him jumping hedges in the classic hunting style. Mr Dunn and Joshua have an excellent working relationship in both kennels and on exercise. There was a clean pattern of trust between Mr Dunn and Joshua, which was lovely to witness. From what I could recognize, Mr Dunn has been an exemplary mentor to Joshua since joying HH in May last year. It was a genuine delight to behold.
Ralph Dunn, 8, also joined us on exercise on Alfie his 12.2hh pony. He assured me that he had been jumping some rails during the brief season and looks forward to what next season has to offer for him and his jumping career!
Hounds were exercised for several miles on the hills of Hampshire before returning to their lodges for a much-deserved breakfast. As he returned to the kennels, Mr Dunn introduced me to April, who played a crucial role in carrying on the Hampshire Hound line. It was lovely to witness. I look forward to returning when the pups are all grown up and introduced to the rest of the pack.