Some people are just natural horsemen, says Tessa Waugh, as an old friend joins her for a day’s hunting and proves as (irritatingly) brilliant as ever – rocking an Edwardian nagsman look
There’s nothing like old friends, is there? The people you’ve known for years. Guy Landau was staying here this week having finished his first season as master and huntsman of the Meynell and South Staffs – like many they were forced to finish early due to the wet weather. Adam got to know Guy and his wife, Emma, about 15 years ago when he was hunting the South and West Wilts, bonding over a succession of table-sized steaks, lurchers and hunting.
Guy was riding show horses at the time for John Dunlop and would come out most days on a brilliant little horse called Bob The Cob, rocking an “Edwardian nagsman” look, short legs thrust forward in the old-fashioned style, roll-up on the go, opening gates for Adam and relishing being at the sharp end on a hunting day.
He has nicknames for everyone. “Phwoar ‘Bumpy’,” he chuckled to me. “I used to get shouted at. ‘Waddler’ [Adam] used to go mad.”
And we reminisced fondly about the expletives that used to rain down. Happy days.
Guy’s ability as a horseman is well known. One day when hounds marked in a graveyard in the small Wiltshire town of Mere, he followed them on Bob The Cob; taking a wire fence, a ditch and another wire fence, followed by the stream and a hung gate at a bounce. When Adam and his kennel-huntsman, David Barnett, arrived, they looked at each other in confusion. Guy was off his horse with the hounds, Bob’s reins looped over the gate.
We were autumn hunting another day, hounds drawing a brook somewhere in the vale, when Adam surprised me by getting off his horse and asking me to marry him. Afterwards he got back on again and holloaed a fox which promptly disappeared up a tree. Looking on from a neighbouring field, Guy couldn’t believe his luck when he noticed that the fox was black and white with an odd-looking brush.
“It was a cat!” he told everyone delightedly, greeting Adam for weeks afterwards with a battery of high-pitched miaows.
Like a ballet dancer
Yesterday Guy joined us for a day’s hunting, riding Trigger, a new horse which arrived from the Wynnstay country earlier in the season. Another renowned horseman, Adam’s predecessor here, Ian McKie, kindly took Trigger out the previous week and deemed him fit for the job, if a bit edgy to begin with. Perhaps he was expecting to jump a line of Wynnstay hedges? Trigger is no looker; he’s a gangly grey whose hooves turn out like a ballet dancer, but cantering down hills with Guy on board he looked a different animal.
“He was practically rolling a cigarette as he went,” I told Adam later. “Annoying, isn’t it?” he replied. “Yes, very,” I agreed.
Ref Horse & Hound; 19 March 2020