The Dunster Country Fair Hound Show gives Hunts the opportunity to compete against each other in the ring and show off their hounds to the general public. The Hound Show starts at 10am when Staghounds, Foxhounds, Harriers, Beagles and Minkhounds will be showing in their respective rings. Around 30 hunts compete in the morning, culminating in the Supreme Championship between 12 & 1pm.
These packs of hounds have been carefully bred over hundreds of years to hunt their specific quarry, whether it was Fox, Deer, Hare or Mink. Their breeding can be traced through the hunt record books back over generations.
There are only three packs of Staghounds in the country all based here in the South West which are responsible for managing the Red Deer herds. It is the presence of these hunts which has ensured the survival of the only significant and truely wild Red Deer herds left in England. The old English thoroughbred Staghound is now extinct so the Staghound hunts use hounds of Foxhound blood. The modern day Staghound tends to be a large strong hound built for stamina.
Foxhound packs are the most common hunts in this country and they help to keep the Foxes at acceptable levels for the farmers by culling foxes using exemptions in the Hunting Act. Some hunts also undertake trail hunting. The Foxhound is another large hound built for speed and stamina.
The West Country Harrier is as its name implies mainly confined to the South West of England. It is taller, heavier and often a lighter colour than the studbook Harrier. It is smaller and lighter in weight than the Foxhound with a finer build. Originally they were bred to hunt Hares but most packs changed over to hunt foxes as well or exclusively with in the last eighty years prior to the hunting ban. The Harrier packs now also use exemptions under the hunting act or trail hunt. Due to their smaller size, agility and speed compared to the Foxhound they are particularly good at hunting in thick cover and over the difficult terrain found here in the south west.
The Beagle is the smallest hound on show. They stand between 14 and 16 inches. They were originally bred to hunt hares. Since the hunting ban most packs now hunt rabbits (which are exempt) or trail hunt. Hunt Staff and followers are on foot. Beagles are very enthusiastic and active hounds.
Minkhounds or Otterhounds
The Minkhounds or Otterhounds, hunted mink up until the Hunting Act became law. Otter hunting stopped voluntarily many years ago when there fall in otter numbers due to loss of habitat and water pollution. Mink were introduced into this country when they were released from Mink farms by animal rights extremists. They are a vicious predator often devastating local populations of native species such as the Water Vole and ground nesting Birds. The Minkhounds hunted on foot along the river banks during the summer months and helped to keep the Mink population in check. Since the ban they now hunt either Rats or Rabbits (both are exempt).The Minkhound is a friendly, tough, sturdy hound with a thick coat and is a good swimmer. It is ideally suited to hunting in difficult conditions.
The Five Couple Class
The five couple class will take place in Ring 2 in the afternoon. This is something which is not often seen so make sure you do not miss it! Each Huntsman will have five couple of hounds in the ring and be judged on the packs uniformity, conformation and way of going for 50% of the marks and their obedience and responsiveness for the other 50 %.
Entries & Enquiries
All enquiries, including anybody wishing to donate Cups please contact Andrew Turner on 01643 841831