Hello from Cobbie and I on trip number two of our big tour. We headed off back down the Fosse Way to the Avon Vale Hunt once again. This time we were not alone — Sam Austin and her horse Jake decided they would like to join us too. Sam has spent the past seven years as part of the Warwickshire Hunt inter hunt relay team and has also competed against the Avon Vale Hunt at a number of competitions over the years, so she was keen to pay them a visit.
The previous week, during tea and cake after the evening meet at Brook Hall Farm, plans were hatched for our next Avon Vale visit. They were due to meet on Thursday at The Kennels, Spye Park at 6.30am. Stuart Radbourne (huntsman and joint master) offered to stable our horses the night before hunting at his yard. This meant Sam and I were going to test sleeping in Cadbury.
Sam and Jake arrived at my yard on Wednesday afternoon after she had finished work at Spring Paddocks Equine Vets, with all their worldly possessions to stay away. Then came the mammoth task of transferring everything across to Cadbury! Once loaded up, the four of us where off. Sixty miles later, without any mishaps, we arrived at Stuart’s Abbotswood Farm, needless to say a little later than planned.
At this point, Cobbie started to have doubts on what was happening. He was having a field for the night and Jake was having a stable — not fair, he thought! He normally lives out so I thought he would be fine in a field. Cobbie had other ideas though… He would not settle — he kept threatening to jump out, until I moved Cadbury to where he could see him and then he was fine! His love affair with Cadbury perhaps was blossoming. He used to whinney for the old lorry, Lawrence, after hunting, perhaps he was going to do the same for Cadbury?
Once the horses where settled, Sam and I made our beds, test firing the design that Kim had made for myself, and Sam was having the camp bed in the back.
Once done, we headed off to the local pub, The Greyhound at Bromham, where landlords Danny and Tara Adams and their team provided a fantastic meal and plenty to wash it down with (Stuart also informed us that they host a lovely meet outside this traditional picturesque village pub). Fed and watered, Sam and I set our alarms for a 4.45am start. The kettle was filled and coffee mugs set for the early morning injection of caffeine.
After sleeping surprisingly well, we were off. Horses tacked up and loaded and following Stuart’s lorry to the kennels. Once again there were some very narrow lanes. Once onboard we set off with 33 and a ½ couple of hounds (in total they have 45 couple of hounds in kennels plus four couple of puppies). The kennel drive lead onto a lane that lead into an oasis of grass fields — woods and hedges as far as the eye could see — hunting heaven. Ollie Thompson, their new kennelman and former whipper-in at the Holderness, my home pack, let on to me that this was where he walked out every day — not a car in sight!
The morning held promise with a dewy start and low lying mist in the air. But as many packs are finding after such a hot dry summer and early harvest, the conditions for good autumn hunting were difficult. The ever-young Mike Smith (senior master and octagenarian) was in charge of the field and did a sterling job of putting us in the right place. But despite his tactics, the poor scenting conditions meant hounds went home disappointed having not latched on to the laid trail.
Lynne and her fantastic little horse have started making their way through the alphabet
After hounds had been fed — a well-earned reward for a long morning’s work for them — Ollie and Stuart gave us a guided tour of the kennels, explaining all their plans for the future. It’s so good to see a good team coming together and looking forward to many season’s hunting.
Our next stop on our hunting challenge is north this time and up to visit the Brockelsby in North Lincolnshire.
Bye for now,
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