Masters of Foxhounds have received extra support in the running of their packs in the form of a new guidebook, Competences Required within a Mastership.

Published by the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) to coincide with the start of the new hunting year on 1 May, the booklet has been written by Captain Brian Fanshawe, consultant to the Council of Hunting Associations (CHA).

It includes chapters on managing kennels, running hunting days and more contemporary issues such as working within the framework of the Hunting Act and dealing with the press.

MFHA chairman Stephen Lambert explained: “The booklet has been supplied to all masters, not just those new to the role. Many people come into the mastership with less experience these days, but multiple masterships also provide the challenge of dividing up the workload.

“We felt it would be useful to have a checklist of what needs to be done. A master’s responsibilities are much greater now, from complying with Defra’s requirements to managing staff.”

He confirmed that while advice on the Hunting Act has always been offered, the detailed review within the booklet of the procedures required to comply with the Act provides an update based on hunts’ experiences since the legislation came in.

Capt Fanshawe explained: “We wanted to get masters to think about what they are doing. For those brought up with hunting, skills such as dealing with farmers come naturally, but many new masters need a little help.”

The MFHA also ran its second mastership training course earlier this year, attracting existing as well as new masters.

“It was very well attended and we plan to repeat it annually in different parts of the country,” said Mr Lambert.

James Dobie has joined the mastership of the College Valley and North Northumberland for the forthcoming season, and he told H&H he had found the booklet extremely useful.

Mr Dobie pointed out that while he has been fortunate to join a highly experienced mastership, many established masterships have not survived the change in the law.

“It is full of excellent information on new challenges that all masters are facing, such as dealing with increased media attention,” he said. “It is also helpful to have a recap of all the legal hunting activities under the Act.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (5 June, ’08)