“Once upon a time, there were ghillies. They originated in Ireland and Scotland and their functions were fairly rudimentary – they would row boats, land fish and give basic advice. They were to talk when talked to, but generally be seen rather than heard. Ghillying, back then, was all about the master and his man; the class divide.
Guiding is a different matter. Today, the guide gives total, constant, hands-on advice and is an equal partner for the day. He or she is a friend, a confidante, a fixer who can wring every bit of pleasure out of time at the waterside.
Most of us are short of time, which is why guides are eagerly sought out. Your guide will cut the corners that take time. Hire a good guide and you can be sure that you have done your best to wring every ounce of satisfaction out of your day.
I guide a lot; it’s not a significant part of my living, but I do it for fun. I enjoy the challenge of catching someone the fish that he wants. Guiding gives an edge to my own fishing, and it introduces me to the best of friends. In fact, if I look at a list of the top 20 people I like to fish with, I met virtually all of them through guiding in the first place. Do you know, I’ve been guiding to greater or lesser extent for 17 years now? In that time, I guess I’ve met up with about two thousand or so fresh faces. And in all honesty, I can only remember only three that I’d prefer not to see again. Doesn’t that amazing statistic say a whole lot about fishing and fishermen?”
“On Monday morning, I schooled the horses and in the afternoon, attended a Child Protection and Duty of Care Workshop in preparation for my work experience candidates starting next week; it’s great to have their extra pairs of hands and they enjoy learning. On the way home, I visited my physio who I see regularly to keep in good shape.
Tuesday started early with horses to ride before leaving for Somerley. I schooled a couple and then jumped the others. After freshening up, I had a shoot with British Eventing magazine. It was a perfect opportunity to show off my wonderful clothing from Anky’s summer range.
At 12.30pm, my horses, my head girl Elodie and I left for Salisbury racecourse, where we stabled overnight.
Wednesday started well with Breeze IV doing a reasonable test and a lovely double clear for tenth place. Kenny was a little bright in his dressage and touched a pole in the show jumping but jumped the most fantastic cross country round to finish 11th. Ultimate Opposition did a very good test to get 33 and a brilliant double clear to come fifth in the Open Intermediate section. Romeo was second in his first novice – very promising! The ground was fantastic and the cross country courses were bold and galloping – I was very impressed with Somerley. We left at 6pm for the four-and-a-half hour drive home.
On Thursday, I enjoyed working my advanced horse Good Sport II, who is coming back from injury; he is fantastic and a joy to ride. I rode Opposition Express (a grey, four-year-old) who is adorable and I jumped Jorrocks Curtis who just gets better and better. Then it was another photo shoot to demonstrate half pass, leg yield and rein back. I used the wonderful Charmed and Tankers Town, who is certainly not camera shy!”
“We’re flat out at the Mullenscote Training Kennels, with some really lovely young dogs in for training. We have a young Labrador pup called Razz that is showing some promise and he’s certainly an interesting dog to work with. This youngster is about as ‘hot’ as any young puppy we’ve ever worked with. If we ever manage to harness his enthusiasm and energy, I’m sure we will have a really special gundog. If we don’t get it right, he will become a hooligan.
Dogs like Razz offer the sort of challenge that we thrive on. Enthusiasm from a pupil is always a pleasure, but Razz redefines ‘enthusiasm’! He has enough drive for a whole litter of puppies. One chap, who happened to see Razz retrieving a dummy, commented: ‘’I reckon that dog’s mad.’’ Watch this space!
Now that the evenings are lighter, it’s a perfect time for getting out and doing some training with your dogs. Whether you’re training a new puppy or just sharpening up the skills of an older dog, it’s really important that you ensure that you’ve done your homework first.
Start by asking yourself the question: “How good are my dog training skills?” Be honest; remember, your ability to communicate with your dog is crucial if you’re going to train him successfully. If you fail to explain what you want the dog to do, he will very soon become disillusioned. Imagine being taught by a teacher who set you a task then failed to show you how to complete it - even worse, if you failed and the teacher became irritated and punished you. Not nice!
Your dog never comes out to a training session intent on making you angry. In fact, it’s the opposite as his submissive and willing nature means he only wants your approval. Make sure your training skills and knowledge are as good as they possibly can be. Read, study, watch, discuss and research as much as you can to ensure your teaching skills give your pupil every chance to succeed.”
“I’m truly, totally happy to be talking about filming again with HCTV. It seems a long time since I made my first series for the station – On the Fly with John Bailey – and I was pleased it was such a success. But, as they say, you’re only as good as your last game and I’m eager to get started once more now spring is upon us.
I see my role at Horse & Country TV as breaking down the barriers that exist within angling. All types of fishing are great, and it’s just a shame that 95 per cent of anglers tend to be stereotyped and find themselves doing the same thing over and over. What I want to get across is that there is interest, excitement and the unexpected every time you pick up a fishing rod. If I can show carp anglers what they are missing by not fishing for roach or trout in rivers then I’ll be happy, and vice versa.
I’m hoping to convince members of the non-fishing public that fishing is truly worthwhile and just so much fun. It’s a great way to get into the countryside and understand how nature really works. The best anglers are 100 per cent hands-on naturalists because, believe me, you can have all the bait, tackle and rigs known to mankind, but unless you know what makes a fish tick, you won’t get a bite.”
“My first event of the season kicked off at Isleham, and my first horse unfortunately brought my first fall – not the ideal way to start, but always best to get the first fall of the season out of the way! Charmed, one of my advanced rides owned by Mrs Pene Parker and a fantastically scopey mare, went very well in the Open Intermediate and finished 11th for her first run since Bramham. Romeo, a superb youngster, was second in the Open Pre-Novice and Azeb, another very promising prospect, came ninth.
The following weekend, the sun shone at Poplar Park. As usual the ground was very good, as were the courses. My horses were very bright with the cross country course running next to the dressage arena and my marks reflected this! For some, it was their first event so hopefully they'll be more settled next time out. Romeo Z was a complete star and won the OPN; Kenny, a very capable horse, was 12th in the Intermediate and Tankers Town jumped a brilliant double clear to finish 11th.
Next stop was Lincoln with the Novices and Intermediates. I had decided to take Tankers Town for a practice run and hadn’t planned to run him in the cross country, but I was delighted that he did a good test, was clear show jumping and the lead before the cross country. Charmed went very well and finished tenth in the OI and Ultimate Opposition, a very talented horse (owned by Miss Rosie Bailey and Mrs Jane Bailey), was 13th for his first run of the year.”