THE Jersey Drag Hunt will meet without hounds next season for the first time since just after the Second World War. By Ruth Le Cocq
Ill health has forced the huntsman, Mark Evans, to retire early after 28 years of caring for the hounds and he will be returning to the UK at the end of April. As the only paid member of the hunt staff, Mark was responsible for the welfare of the hounds 365 days of the year making sure they were fed, exercised and kept in good health.
Nick Arthur, the joint master of the hunt, said there had been some tentative interest from hunt staff in the UK but Mark’s current accommodation, alongside the kennels in St Mary, was no longer available and so the hounds had been moved to the UK.
‘The landlord took back the house and one of our requirements is a proximity to the kennels. Without accommodation we have not be able to offer employment to anyone from outside the Island,’ said Nick.
‘Finding ourselves in a position of not having a kennelman/huntsman for the first time in many years, a decision was taken to move the hounds to the UK, following an offer from the hunt that gave us the hounds in the first place. We hope this is a stop gap measure,’ he added.
Nick said one local person had been interested in working with the hounds but unfortunately, they did not have enough experience.
‘We have been very lucky with Mark,’ said Nick. ‘He has stayed with us for 28 years and we were fortunate not to be in this position sooner. We wish him well and the best of luck.’
On a positive note Nick said the hunt could be more flexible without the hounds because meeting times were linked to their feed times and changes in the weather.
‘The hounds dictate the pace and they can’t hunt on hard ground because their pads get sore and they can’t hunt in hot weather,’ he said.
Nick hopes this might attract younger people to join the Jersey Drag Hunt who are needed to ensure the club’s future.
‘The next season for the hunt will be a little different,’ said Nick, ‘but, whilst there will be no hounds, we intend to carry on as normal, picking lines, holding meets and riding across the beautiful Jersey countryside.’