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  • Gypsy Vanner fox hunting

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    02-01-2011, 09:21 PM
Im in SA ;)
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    02-02-2011, 04:49 AM
Lizzie, In this recession the Valleys are not a good area to live. But I guess you know that. The weather too this year has been unkind and up around Blackwood the snow has been deep, crisp and very cold.

We rescued last week a pretty Welsh Cob D X Trotter mare - whose Grandad was Eddw Prince - probably Mr Weeks's stock who still lives in Blackwood. She is a pretty little thing at 15H 2 or thereabouts but she needs to put back on the weight she lost from being neglected over the cold weather. She was given to us, with her bones sticking out and very bad mud fever. But within just a week of cosseting she's coming round quickly and proving to be a sharp little girl. We'll fatten her up, check her level of schooling and look for a long term home for her.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence but my guess is that California is a more prosperous area than Caerphilly

Barry G

PS How does a Welshie, presumably with a valley's accent get on amongst all those Yanks?. Can you make yourself understood?
    02-02-2011, 08:11 AM
A day out with the Monmouthshire Hunt

A picture speaks a thousand words. Here the followers are waiting for the terrier man over the edge of the ridge to dig out a foxhole. We followers were taking a breather and a swig.

This photo was taken on one of the ridges in the Black Mountains just north of Abergavenny in South Wales. It is an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and as such is protected from further development. The few locals make their living either as lifestock farmers, or from tourism and sometimes by supporting the second home owners. Interestingly for Forum members, there are four trekking centres along the length of this one valley. If you are a competent rider, then it is a magnificent place to ride on one of the locally trained, sure footed cobs This is not the terrain for fancy Thorobreds, rather it is the homeland of the Welsh Cob. The hillsides have barely been touched by mechanised farming although the vegetation has been shaped by sheep, deer and rabbits. In the summer months it is a glorious place to visit, but in mid winter it is best to stay at home unless you are one of the hardy types. Access to the area is by private car or bike, there is no public transport. One stays in boarding houses or pubs, there are no modern hotels nearby.

There are two fox hunts which work this area. It is a fact of life that foxes kill lambs in the spring, so either the hunt chases them or the farmers shoot them. The local farmers will defend this policy. However without the fox there would be a plague of rabbits, so there is a careful balance for man to reach. Venison is also a source of income but the numbers of deer allowed to run free must be managed carefully. Buzzards and hawks of various types fly overhead. There are no other predators except man.

On the day, the Monmouthshire Hunt had met in the grounds of Llanthony Abbey - an settlement founded in 1100 AD by a Norman knight named William de Lacy. Today the roofless ruins still stand but in the grounds there is a pub, a guest house and a small tea room plus, importantly for we riders, a trekking centre. It was from here that I hired Murphy, my trusty steed for a days hunting.

Hunting over this terrain calls for special riding expertise. Most of the chase takes place up on the ridges. To get up there the horse has to first climb the steep, loose tracks. The terrain is largely covered by bracken and pitted with rocks, clumps of vegetation and holes created by rabbits and foxes. The dark areas of vegetation usually indicate the presence of a bog, some of them quite deep. The local horses know where to put their feet down safely, the visiting rider hasn‘t a clue. When the huntsman blows that horn then the horses are off and surprisingly the unevenness of the terrain does little to slow the horses down. One minute you will find yourself on a sandy track, the next minute in a sea of bracken. One minute you are going uphill and the next you are going downhill. You’ll be lucky to catch sight of a fox and you‘ll spend the day chasing a pack of fox hounds and a man in a red coat.

But there is a saying: “what goes up must come down” and towards the end of the day the huntsman will direct the hounds back down the steep sides of the ridges towards the lane which runs along the bottom of the valley.

The horse will be too excited to walk, and the slopes are too steep to canter so invariably you’ll find yourself trotting downhill on a sandy path at a 45 degree angle on a 45 degree slope. The horse will be fired up with adrenaline, you’ll be exhausted as you start the descent and your muscles will be utterly destroyed by the time you reach the bottom of the hillside You can’t sit in, you can’t rise, so you stand to the trot. You daren’t lean too far forwards, you’ll put the horse on its forehand; you’ve got to lean back to help keep the horse and yourself in balance. You must give the horse its head to balance itself and thereby you give back to the horse control of both direction and speed of pace. There is no horn to cling to on an English saddle. If you fall you’ll roll down the side of the hill. Your feet are rammed home in the stirrup irons and one foot, is held higher than the other. Your legs are wrapped tightly round the barrel of the horse to stop yourself from sliding forwards. It is the grip of your calves and under thighs which keep you in the saddle. You are preying the horse doesn’t lose its footing. If it does, it might break a leg and you will wind up lying underneath it. It is one of those moments of a lifetime which you’ll never forget. There’s no subtlety, no style, no grace; it is a terrifying yet exhilarating ride.

This was when my coloured horse Murphy excelled. He get me down without putting a foot wrong but in the process he destroyed me. I was physically shattered by the descent from that ridge. A regular criticism of ‘Murff ‘was that on a regular trek he was lazy. His day job was to carry riders up and down to the ridges. Unless you chivvied him along then he took it easy. He was also his own man and if he didn’t like the rider’s style of riding then he would rebel. But on this day I saw another side of him and I could not have had a better partner for the day. For this sort of terrain he had proved himself to be absolutely superb. We had reason to believe he was bred by Gypsies and if this is the stamp of horse they like to ride and pull their carts, then I can well understand why.

Some folks get the impression that Fox Hunting in Britain is one of the class dividing sports. With the Monmouthshire, hunting over this ground, nothing could be further from the truth. You were judged not by what you wore, or even the look of your horse - you were judged by whether you could keep up with the Master. There were no jumps but there were bogs and I know which of the two is the easier to negotiate. It was largely because of this day’s outing with Murff that when the opportunity arose I bought Joe who was his stable companion. But Joe ( a Gypsy horse of a different stamp) represented another series of stories.

(Actually the picture told 1145 words).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Monmouth Hunt 2004.jpg (63.8 KB, 251 views)
    02-02-2011, 02:22 PM
Barry. Thank you SO much m'dear, for giving such a wonderful story of the hunt. Might I ask your permission to copy and keep your description and beautiful photos please? If I ever show them to anyone, I would always give you credit of course.

Re. The recession. I doubt it could be any worse than in S. California. Entire streets with foreclosed, empty homes. Thousands living on the streets. Horrible crime. Gang problems everywhere. Huge taxes. Millions of illegals and the list goes on. I came here many years ago and S. Ca. Was nice then. Now, almost all my friends have moved away to other states and many to other countries.

Just recently they have been lettng criminals by the thousands, out of our jails because of overcrowding.

I can no longer walk my dogs, because of all the macho idiots walking their Pitbulls. We no longer go out at night at all. We are on SS and it becomes more difficult each year, to make it to the next month. Add to that, the horrible problem of health care here.

Certainly there are some nice and safer places in S. Ca. Where my daughter lives (who owns all the Gypsies I show here) it is really quite nice and relatively crime free. But for millions, life is very difficult here. Most of my family in Wales, seem to be doing a whole lot better than us.

I think many over there, still have the feeling that anyone in California, must be wealthy, sitting by a pool and sipping something cool all the time. Maybe that comes from movies? I don't know. I know one of my elderly cousins in Wales, seems to feel that way and I constantly try to explain that she is much better off there. They own their own home, have a nice pension, free health care and a new car every few years. They go for a nice walk down to the pub a couple of times a week and meet up with old friends. I doubt they ever have to worry about where the next meal is coming from.

A few years ago, I lost a home I dearly loved, when gangs took over the whole street, little by little. They attacked homes on our street almost every night, until it became impossible to live there. We moved out overnight, in fear for our lives. The police were little help, since by the time they'd arrive, all gang members were gone. These gang members were mostly young and illegal, according to what the police told me. They just couldn't catch them. I lost my home of many years, all the money I'd put into it and of course, my good credit, since I had just moved out and abandoned it. I had put over $100,000 just in upgrades, quite apart from what it cost in the first place. Sadly, my elderly neighbour who stayed there and thought he'd fight it out with the gangs, was shot through his front room window, just months after we moved. I look at the house on google earth and it looks as though it is still empty, 14 years later. Probably just a hangout now, for gangs and druggies. This was in North Hollywood.

Strangely enough, just weeks before, I had seen a fellow on the news, who had been forced to leave his home in similar circumstances. I never forgot his words. He said, "Remember, it's me today. Tomorrow it could be you." And in our case, it was.

I have been in the US for 48 years now and have lived in many states. I'm afraid I like all, better than S. California.

    02-02-2011, 03:02 PM
Lizzie - what a sad story. We Brits hear that all is rosy in the land of the free and of course it isn't. But at least Sth California has the sun, maybe too much. I visited LA and San Francisco when I was working. I was never tempted to move there - the violence and the drugs always troubled me. I seriously thought of moving to Houston - indeed for a couple of years I kept an appartment there. If I had moved to the US it would have been to Raleigh Durham in NC. But in the end I didn't. From those days I still have friends living in Houston, New Jersey and Durham. The lifestyle always looked plush to me but there wasn't a recession then.

Over here this year might prove to be difficult especially in Wales where more workers have jobs as public employees than as employees of private companies. But as you know the State gives some degree of support even if it is not enough. Petrol has now reached £5.50 per gallon - say 8$ per US gallon - mostly as tax of course. Crime is a problem but largely for the big cities - where we live in the countryside alongside the Welsh border, it is not - mercifully.

As far as the article and the photos - then by all means, show your friends what a pretty place Wales is. If you look up my UserCP you find the other threads which I have posted on the forum - there are some more stories you might be interested to read. Alternatively you can do a search for 'Joe' my cob gelding or 'DiDi' my Irish Draught /Connemara mare.
Keep cheerful.

Barry G
    02-03-2011, 01:04 PM
I have several friends in England who follow the hounds on Gypsies and one who even plays polo. These little cobs just seem to be handy at whatever is put to them.

I was actually brought up in Norfolk mostly and my step grandfather was Master of the Hounds in Norfolk, but I never do remember meeting him. I only heard he was quite a character and is mentioned in a few books.

Thank you Barry, for allowing me to save your pics and writings. I shall treasure them.

    02-03-2011, 03:54 PM
They are so beautiful, almost fairy tale like. I would love to see them in person... so far only in photos.
    02-03-2011, 04:04 PM
Join our Gypsy Horse Forum if you like, and you will meet up with several breeders in Canada.

The Gypsy Horse Group :: Index

Whether buying or not, I'm sure they'd love you to visit their horses.

    04-18-2011, 11:59 AM
Here is my vanner harvey, he's 16.1h and now 9 years him when he was 3 pics are from when he was about four. Id always had arabs but this guy has won me over..hes very sharp and very strong!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg harvey in sun.jpg (41.5 KB, 258 views)
File Type: jpg harvey at show.jpg (53.4 KB, 300 views)
    04-18-2011, 05:43 PM
He's lovely lucyhorizon. Not many Gypsies as tall as that. Is he a true Gypsy or maybe a Drum? Lots of fabulous Gypsies in your area.


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