For the Baron von Pfetten’s Hunt, or Equipage de Selore in Burgundy, France, 2011 has been an incredibly exciting year of firsts, not only for English Foxhound ”Colonel’s” home pack, but for the Foxhunting fraternity overall, as it has placed the actual breed of Foxhound unequivocally on the international map.
The year 2011 represents the Centenary of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale* (FCI). Since 1971, the FCI has run annually the prestigious World Dog Show (WDS) which is held in a different location each year. This year the show was in Paris in July, and was the culmination of competition of every breed imaginable from all over the world. At this enormous event, over 200,000 dogs progressed through a myriad of qualifying rounds which led ultimately to the Championship at the World Dog Show in Paris.
* The FCI is the World Canine Organisation. It includes 86 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI makes sure that the Pedigrees and Judges are mutually recognised by all the FCI members.
Colonel’09 is a perfect example of an old English Foxhound who’s pedigree has been meticulously recorded over 223 years – back to Brocklesby Ringwood in 1788, immortalised by Stubbs. He was a gift (draft) from Lord Yarborough of Brocklesby Hall in Lincolnshire to the Master of the Equipage de Selore, Baron Jean Christophe von Pfetten, as a puppy in early 2009. He comes from strong Brocklesby stock; his sire is Brocklesby Teaser’06 and his dam Brocklesby Countess’05. The previous generation is respectively grand-sire Limerick Tenor’98; grand-dam Brocklesby Garlic’03, and on his dam’s side, grand-sire Limerick Censor’95, and grand-dam Brocklesby Leaming’02.
2011 was the first year that Colonel was introduced to the show ring. After winning the title of “Meilleur de Race” (Best of Breed) at the French National Hound Show (Fontainebleau June 2011), and Champion at the WDS (Paris July 2011), Colonel came through and stood to attention again in the show ring in Brussels on 12th November, having been selected to compete this time in the ultimate FCI’s World Champion of Champions (WCOC).
Colonel and the Baron at the FCI World Dog Show
What is perhaps even more profound is that another of Baron von Pfetten’s, Gallant, was placed second to Colonel at the World Dog Show in Paris. Gallant’07 is a Modern English Foxhound, drafted from Barlow Hunt to this same pack in 2008 and his parentage, while equally strong is, however, of somewhat different bloodlines to his competitor – which speaks volumes for the quality of hound in Baron von Pfetten’s Pack. Gallant’s sire is Morpeth Gateshead’03 and his dam Barlow Watchful’04. The previous generation is respectively grand-sire Morpeth Gambler’98; grand-dam Morpeth Gracious’99, and on his dam’s side, grand-sire Barlow Parker’02, and grand-dam Barlow Walnut’00.
To the Firsts:
- The World Dog Show Championship Award is the result of Colonel’s first time of being shown;
- Colonel was not bred for the show ring, but for hunting, true to his purpose;
- Colonel is the first English Foxhound belonging to a French hunt to qualify for the World Dog Show;
- Colonel is the first ever Foxhound to win Champion Dog at the World Dog Show;
- Colonel is the first ever Foxhound to be represented at the World Champion of Champions;
- This is the first time that the Equipage de Selore has won such an award, a double award in fact, given that another Selore contestant, Gallant, came second – which is a great accolade not only for the hunt, but for the breed of Foxhound in general;
- This is the first time that any Foxhound has been selected to present at an FCI Championship competition.
This event in Brussels was also a first; celebrating the Centenary of the FCI. Champion dogs of all breeds, from all over the globe, had been selected to attend. Overall, there were 893 dogs, with 230 breeds represented from 33 countries. There was one, and one only, Foxhound present. This very proudly, was Baron von Pfetten’s ”Colonel”.
To have attended this prestigious event in Brussels was prize in itself as every dog there was a Champion. The highly experienced all-breed judges would have had a challenging task on their hands with such amazing specimens from which to select their final winners; FCI Golden Winner, Silver, two Bronze, the four Quarter-Finalists, and a special trophy went to the Oldest Champion dog present.
Colonel’s Award at the World Dog Show is a first for the Foxhound. The Foxhound has never been recognised in such a competition before and while the Master of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) Stud Book dates back to 1841, there has formerly been no correlation whatsoever between this and the Kennel Club’s records. In order to enter under FCI regulations, it proved an administrative nightmare to provide four generations worth of registrations for the Kennel Club, obviously retrospectively. Easily done in theory due to the thoroughness of recording in the MFHA Stud Book, but in practice, time-consuming in the extreme. All of this makes it also a great success for the MFHA in the UK, as it is now recognised as a proper kennel club and not only as a hunting office.
It is important to recognise the Foxhound as a breed of dog in its own right. Colonel is the perfect example of this breed. He stands proud in his near-symmetrical black and tan uniform and displays all the attributes required such as grand conformation, agility, and obedience. What is not possible to judge at events such as the World Dog Show due to the environment and time constraints, is an animal’s nature, intellect, and ability to perform the job for which it is bred. Colonel ranks supreme in all these areas – indeed, he is no pampered pooch being preened and prepared for show; prior to Brussels, he has been out every morning with the rest of the pack in training for the hunting season ahead, and an excellent worker he is indeed.
In addition to the somewhat different “French Hounds” of which there are about fifteen couple, a similar number comprise the “British Foxhound” pack at the Chateau de Selore just outside the country town of St Yan in the heart of the most beautiful Burgundy countryside. The pack was re-established by the Baron von Pfetten’s father in 1981, after ceasing just before World War II. The French ancestors of the Baron have been hunting hounds since the eighteenth century. Baron Jean Christophe von Pfetten has been Master of Foxhounds in France since 1990, having previously been Joint-Master of the New Forest Hunt in England. He refined his stock through experienced selection and the introduction of top bloodlines of English Foxhounds from the United Kingdom. The Baron does not just hunt for the sake of appearances or traditional expectations, but with a passion that is as strong in his blood as that of hunting is in his hounds.
Preparation for the season generally starts in August with hound training, and horses likewise. Early morning rides over dew drenched grass, soft autumnal mists, and the onset of exquisite russet gold and red colours of deciduous trees taking on their seasonal hue and typical of the area and form a beautiful backdrop for this exercise – when experienced hounds are reminded of their job and young hounds are entered into the pack for the first time. Couples (for the non-hunting reader, this is where a young hound is attached to an older and more experienced hound by way of a short chain joining their collars, and not to be confused with the term “couple”, the means by which English Foxhounds are counted, and always stated in the singular) are not used in training here because most of the hunting takes place in the Baron’s 10,000 hectare privately owned and heavily forested hunting territory nearby.
In 2007, the Baron introduced a biennial Puppy Show at his Estate in Selore. This follows the British tradition, otherwise unknown in France, and a great occasion not only for the identification of excellence in Foxhounds, but also for the gathering of local gentry, hunt members and followers to review and learn about the characteristics of young hounds, and enjoy the shared pleasures and social aspects of their sport of Venerie (for which there is no direct English translation in common usage). Mr Pierre Astié, who is the National President of the French Hound Society, and who is an FCI judge, was co-judge at the most recent Puppy Show with His Royal Highness Georg de Saxe. He said, “This is something very special which is done rarely, but we are very proud that Colonel and Faisant* have been involved to receive this level of recognition”. The International judge went on to say “The French Venerie is going very well, and the cultural importance of the Venerie in Burgundy is a contribution to this wellbeing. The Puppy Show of the Baron von Pfetten is an example of such a contribution”.
*Faisant’11 is another outstanding puppy of Baron von Pfetten’s Hunt, and nephew of Colonel. winning the “Best Young Dog” at the WDS. He is an Old English Foxhound of Yarborough and Jardine origin, however, was too young to be selected for the WCOC.
Another initiative of Baron Jean Christophe von Pfetten together with Baroness Monique de Rothschild is to raise a groundswell to create an international association to promote the Foxhound, and to publish a yearly Stud Book of new entries outside the United Kingdom and the USA. There are a growing number of Foxhound packs not only in France where there are 12, but also in Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, India, Kenya and South Africa. Having gone through the process of registration of Colonel in order that he could compete at the WDS under the FCI banner, a precedent and format has been established which can now be used by others to follow not only within Baron von Pfetten’s pack, but hunts elsewhere also. This is currently a work in progress, and in order to make this truly international, may involve participation from another continent such as Australia. This concept has already received the blessing of the FCI.