Joint-master and huntsman of the Duke of Beaufort’s, Matt Ramsden, on the end of one season and the fresh start of another
“PEOPLE never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.”
The sage words of Otto von Bismarck are as true today as they were in the 19th century. Technology has advanced a huntsman’s capacity to publicise a noteworthy hunt among friends and, provided one doesn’t get carried away with digital drawing, keeps us closer to the truth. Gone are the days of an OS map on the kitchen table and a piece of string with knots denoting each mile. On the other hand, the height at which a gate is hung seems to increase exponentially.
The war in Ukraine is evil beyond words or comprehension. That this country, among others, has gone to great lengths to bring clothes and other essentials to the suffering is a healthy reminder that there is much that we can do rather than just listen to the news and count our blessings.
No doubt the hunting world will continue to raise funds over the coming years for an essential cause.
It will now be common knowledge that there are ongoing developments for a new structure of governance for hunting.
This will include a new process whereby hunts are assessed and accredited before being granted membership.
Although far from daunting, this will at least inspire a form of appraisal and force hunt officials metaphorically to “put a wet towel over their heads” and see ways in which they could better operate.
As an appointed assessor, I have been given the task of looking at some of the packs in Wales. I thoroughly look forward to visiting hidden gems in the hills and no doubt gleaning some inspiration to be deployed on this side of the bridge.
The “ripple effect”
THERE are a considerable number of changes afoot at the end of this month as the hunting year reaches its official conclusion and still more to be confirmed.
The ripple effect of a larger pack making a big change has been, and will always be, substantial. When this occurs all too late in the day it is a complete disaster and leaves other hunts in disarray. The bad example set by a few this year will hopefully not be repeated, for everyone’s sake.
As the last days of April arrive, British highways will be rife with hunt lorries carting furniture, horses, dogs and humans to their new positions. It is a great upheaval but one full of promise, excitement and perhaps a little trepidation, too. Good luck to you all.
WITH the arrival of spring comes the elating sight of lawnmowers and heavy rollers preparing cricket pitches across the land. The inevitable hunt match is a fine way to catch up with mates and take some exercise during the off-season.
Enthusiasm among our members for a match against the VWH this summer has been encouraging. So much so that we are planning a junior game too, much looked forward to by my stepson Jimmy, who is a walking Wisden.
Perhaps my fondest memory of one such game was when I was a spotty upstart hunting the RAC Beagles and was roped in to play for the Warwickshire against the Cotswold at Stowell Park. Simon Hand, then huntsman of the Cotswold, was talking a reasonably good game about his skills as a batsman prior to the match. Bowling him out first ball that day still ranks as one of my proudest moments.
- This exclusive column can be read in full in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 28 April
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