Four-year-old Shepherd, from the Hurworth hunt in North Yorkshire, is to join the Ooty hunt, based at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington in Nilgiris, Southern India, for breeding purposes.

“It all started when the late Capt Ronnie Wallace judged our puppy show three years ago and mentioned that the Ooty was looking for new blood,” explains Joe Townsend, huntsman at the Hurworth.

“So we got in touch with them — they were looking for an Old English Foxhound, which is quite low-scenting and good for the hot conditions in India.”

Shepherd is the third hound the Hurworth has selected — the first one got too old before his transfer could be organised and the second became so good as a hunting hound that the hunt decided to keep him. Shepherd has been chosen for his strong pedigree; he is out of a Belvoir bitch, Shady, by Hurworth Sabre.

“He’s a smart fellow and a well-bred sort of chap. We haven’t used him to breed yet, but we will use his brother next season,” continues Joe.

The Ooty was established in 1835 to hunt sambur, a type of Asian deer, but since 1845 has hunted mainly jackal. It has 15 couple of Foxhounds and is almost exclusively supported by the three armed forces.

Because of the elevation of the hunt — 7,000-7,500ft — Shepherd should not have too much trouble adjusting to the moderate climate.

The arrangements for his journey were finally made earlier this year, and Shepherd will fly out in a specially-made crate, escorted by an RAF officer. Although it is not paying for the hound, the Ooty is footing the £1,700 cost of moving him.

“I just hope he performs when he gets there!” says Joe.

  • This article first appeared in Horse & Hound 20 May issue