french lessons.qxd

Dartmoor on the occasion of the twinning meet of the ... Dorset in his short life before - it looked like being ... up one obedient pet dog for a walk. And when he ...
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The twinning of the South Devon with the visiting French pack, the Rallye Armor, is a partnership made in heaven, as far as David Edelstein is concerned.


lways ride a local horse is a good rule for a hunting correspondent: it has given me some great rides and no doubt saved a lot of grief. But not a horse was to be had for love nor money on Dartmoor on the occasion of the twinning meet of the Rallye Armor with the South Devon Hunt. There was nothing for it but to takehomebred Dandy, never out of Dorset in his short life before - it looked like being one big adventure for the both of us. It was to be a double tret. Not only following hounds on Dartmore, for whose wild beauty I have really fallen since I first hunted there three years ago and wher the small mounted fields, and their friendliness, make the 100-miles trip well worthwhile.

Lessons But we where to stay, Dandy an I, at the East Dart Hotel at Postbridge, ine the middle of the moor - it must be one of the best hunting pubs in the country: four packs of Foxhounds regulary meet ther, not to mention minkhounds and Beagles. The Rallye Armor are the french pack, founded by Christian Perennez about 30 years ago, which hunt stag and occasionally wild boar just across the water in Brtittany. John Walcot of Foxworthy, near Poundsgate, made friends with the hunt some years ago. This joint meet, appropriately enough at the Walcot home, was the occasion of its twinning with the South Devon - as far as anyone knows the very first twinning of its sort. Many of hunt's members had come over, five of them to follow mounted, several in the magnificent uniform that help to make French hunting so special.

Ghislaine Treguy shows off the stylish taste of french tradition with the distinctive uniform of the Rally Armor hunt, founded 30 years ago.

After a hospitable meet and exchange of gifts between the hunts, we moved off for what was to prove an active but frustrating morning. Hounds found soon enough, but made straight for a massive wood where the fields could not follow and we lost them. How we could have done with the

We had a smashing hunt dinner, with French horn music and singing, at the East Dart Hotel that evening: it was nearly midnight when I looked at my watch for almost the first time on that very happy day. George had passed me a copy of his report, here is the gist of it - Dartmoore folk will follow, we can just enjoy the feel.

Peter Ripman and Mickaël Prennerz enjoy an exchange of gifts following an hospitable joint meet at the home of John Walcot.

wonderful horn music that, when you follow a french pack, tells you exactly qhat is going on in the depth of the forest. If you ever get the chance to hunt in France, go - it's magic ! The fields master, and for the day, Fergu Graham, had the difficult task of charging here and there with us, with hardly a clue to go on. Eventually, thanks to his skill, we were all reunited, and the real excitement for Dandy and me began: the word cam back: "Would the man from Horse and Hounds kindly join the huntsman?"

a covert when they got into rearing pens, just like you or me whistling up one obedient pet dog for a walk. And when he found a fox after an hour of fruitless effort - there was no virtually scent out of thick covert - it took him a half an second to get hounds off the heel-line and going in the right direction: both they had our hearts already on the other side of the next hill. "How did you know?" I asked him that evening - he just shrugged.

"Can a duck swim?" Off we cantered - you don't often gallop on Dartmoor, if you are wise - for what I have always regarded as a icing on the hunting cake. The South Devon were incredibly lucky, when they found themselves without a huntsman befor Christmas, to be able to recall George Hyatt, who had been master and huntsman 20 years ago before and has done much since, as followers of hunting and racing well know. "They talk about a blow-ins", he told me, "I must be a blow-back." Whatever, few people can know the country better or have a better way with hounds. It was an education to see George Hyatt pull his hounds sharply out of

Paul Shorland et Nicky Russ.

(When I got home, I rang up Captain Wallace and asked him the same question; he said rather more, but I guess taht his answer came to much the same thing - experience, and the instinct of a born huntsman.) It is some years since I gave up trying to follow and remember exactly what happens in long day's hunting. The trick is to enjoy the day, pick up what you can get alongside the huntsman in the evening and find out what hounds really did.

"Seventeen an a half couple mixed hounds - very warm, drizzle, dulll with light breeze later. Following reports of lamb lost to foxes, we hacked on to draw Broadaford. "Finding near Dockwell, hounds ran into Lizwell Wood, and were recovered after 50 min at Spitchwick.After a long hack back to the ground on Broadaford Newtakes and Blakaton; both were accounted for, and both were found on inspection to have eaten lambs." Lord Burns please note. "A fox from Grendon bog proved scentless, so we drew Riddon. Hounds found at Babent earth to chek - where a second fox was marked and accounted for - on to Riddon Common. Hounds ran well over the ridge, to ground in a rock pile by the River Dart, and left. "We drew back over Corndon Tor to meet. It was a poor day for riders, but hounds hunted well, and a good job done for lambing farmers, killing a brace and a half. Left txo couple in Lizwell Wood, but all on the end, bar Walnut, who was back at the meet." On a deserving horse and with a fair hack home, I recluctantly left hounds at 3.30pm. It was a job settling know what he will have made of the sounds of horns and singing, in his snug box behind the hotel - I hope they helped his dreams. Like me, he will not forget the bog we got into and he somehow swam his way through. "Keep on the rocks!" George had thrown back to us - I had thought he said keep off them. Although he didn't know it, DAndy also had reason to be grateful for the pads the farrier had fitted on the day before. Bog or rocks, Dartmoor has a great deal to teach a green horse. H&H