Adam Henson takes a look back through the Countryfile archives to see how horses and dogs are an integral and much-loved part of rural life.
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There have been horses and dogs
in the British countryside for centuries.
They're part of our living landscape.
We've had both on this farm for as long as I can remember,
and it's thought that man first domesticated the wolf
around 15,000 years ago
and have been working with horses for around 6,000 years.
And on this farm in the Cotswolds,
both of man's best friends work hand-in-hand.
Or should I say, paw in hoof.
On this special programme, I'm on my farm exploring that unique bond.
I'll be meeting horses, dogs and their owners who work the land
and represent some of the oldest countryside traditions.
We love our four-legged friends on Countryfile
so I'll be looking back at some of their starring moments.
Come by, come by!
'Matt's in charge of a world-class sheepdog...'
Yay! What a good boy.
'..Julia's trackside at a derby with a difference.'
Now, the thoroughbreds should come in first, the Ferraris of the pack.
The stragglers, the Morris Minors...
Well, who knows where they'll be.
'..and ever wondered what it feels like
'to be hunted by a pack of bloodhounds?
'Ellie felt the fear.'
Oh, God. They're here, they're here. I can hear them. It's so scary.
And I'll be showing how dogs and horses
help me in my job as a farmer.
First light on the farm.
In the depths of winter, the animals are quiet, the farmyard is still.
But not my dogs - they're always full of energy.
This is my pack of dogs.
I've got two house dogs here, and they're all so guard dogs -
or supposed to be - and then two working collies,
little Boo, here, who likes to fetch a ball.
But the collies aren't interested in balls at all. Come on, then.
I thought I'd introduce you to my dogs one by one.
This is Boo. Stay there.
Come on, then.
She's a Hungarian wirehaired visla, and she's only nine months old.
She's a puppy, really, and a family pet,
and she's just a bundle of joy, aren't you?
Go on, then. Hop over.
-She loves doing tricks. Hop over. Hop.
Go on, jump over. Go on, Boo, hop over. Hop over.
Here, Maude, Maude. Here, Pearl.
These are my two border collies, mother and daughter.
Old Maude here is about 15 and she's a lovely, loyal old working dog,
but she's retired now because she's a bit deaf,
and then this is Pearl, her daughter,
and she works the sheep with me.
You stay there, guys. Come on, Dolly.
Dolly. Good girl. There's a good girl. This is Dolly.
You've had your moment, Boo. Go on, out of it.
She's about seven years old.
She is also a Hungarian wirehaired visla,
but she never grew any wirehair.
The children absolutely adore her. She's a gorgeous, very loyal dog.
And lots of dogs are pets, but also plenty are bred for sport
and a little while ago Matt and Julia were in Cumbria in Ennerdale,
and they couldn't resist the temptation
of seeing a very old and popular sport
where there's a huge gathering of hounds.
Come on, dogs.
It's the start of the hound trailing season,
which has been a popular sport here in the Cumbrian fells
for over 200 years.
Now, later on, Julia and I are going to be experiencing
our first ever hound trailing race,
but long before the dogs get here, it all starts with this.
In the sport of hound trailing, dogs follow a scent
over moorland fields and fells
and the first to complete the course wins.
I'm helping Maurice Bewley lay the trail.
This is what it's all about then, this. This rag.
-It smells incredible.
-What is on there?
-A paraffin and aniseed mixture.
-Why paraffin and aniseed, then?
-Well, they lay better.
Aniseed has a smell of fox, which was the original game.
Hound trailing originated here in the 18th-century
from rivalry between foxhound packs.
Over time, these races became a sport,
which was made official in 1906.
Its popularity spread into the Borders and Ireland,
but its home is here in the Lakes and West Cumbria.
The terrain, then, that they're going across -
I mean, it's rocky, it's rubbly,
there's walls to get over, fences to get over.
Yeah, we do put guards on the fences so as to prevent injury.
I can see a big smile on your face, Maurice.
And I can see a big ditch full of water.
-How deep is that, by the way?
-Oh, about four foot.
-OK. Here we go, then.
Ooh, I've got a leg in it!
Not too bad, though.
Right, Maurice - the coast is clear. Are you coming over?
Uh, I think I'll go around the other way.
MATT LAUGHS Is this...
Oh, he's going for it. Good lad! Brilliant.
-Super. And straight on, then?
-Straight on right through the gate.
While Maurice continues laying the trail,
I want to find a hound to back in today's race,
seeing as this is a gambling sport.
Local owner Glenis Farren is exercising one of the favourites.
-So, Glenis, this is Miss Molly, then?
-That is Miss Molly.
-Bless her, and how old is she?
-Fourth running year.
Trail hounds look similar to their foxhound ancestors,
but are now a breed in their own right,
bred for speed, endurance and tracking ability.
And they have the most beautiful nature, don't they?
-Aren't you gorgeous?
You just want to cuddle, don't you? Hey?
She says, "I don't know about all this running,
"especially in this weather."
-It's not very pleasant today, is it?
-We'll stay and have a snuggle.
Come on, darling. Let's keep walking.
Glenis and her husband, Raymond, have owned over 30 hounds
and apparently their reward at the end of the race
is a bit more elaborate than a few simple dog treats.
So just talk me through what we've got in here, cos it looks like...
-A very hearty meal. We've got pasta, cabbage...
Good chicken. And this will go into a bucket, which we call the catch.
-So all trainers have their own, kind of...
Some people like to catch them with gingerbread, some people have...
You know, they all have their own ideas.
And do you find, then, on that final straight
as they're running towards you at the finish line,
you're all there with your buckets
desperately going, "Chicken! Cabbage!"
No, you just shout its name. No, shout the dog's name
and they nearly all know exactly which one to go to.
Then they have a nice cup of tea.
-A lovely cup of tea.
-This is unbelievable.
-Yes, they all - all trail hounds - love their tea.
We just, you know, make tea up as we go around through the day,
take it with us to the trails.
After they've had what's in the bucket,
we add the tea in and it disappears.
The racing empire is now moving on to the next generation,
with granddaughter Georgia also getting involved.
Over at the course, the weather is good
and it's all happening with competitors, spectators and bookmakers arriving.
The excitement is building.
Julia, are you all right?
-This is Miss Molly.
-Hello, Miss Molly.
-There we are, my darling.
We don't want to put her off too much because obviously she's...
-Is she all set to go?
-All set to go, yes.
-Have you got money on Molly?
-Just a pound. THEY LAUGH
-That's it - they've gone.
-How long does it take?
It's going to be about 30, 40 minutes.
-It's unbelievable, isn't it?
They're going to be exhausted, those hounds.
'So there's plenty of time for me to put a bet on.
'I want to get some local tips for my little wager
'and there seems to be a stand-out favourite.'
Hello, gents. Who am I going to put a pound on?
-On this one. Huntsman's Dazzler.
Everyone's putting money on Huntsman's Dazzler.
Yeah, it's 3 to 1 on.
-8 to 5, Chardonnay.
-You're putting money on Chardonnay?
-Going to win?
All right, that's what I'm going to do.
-Pound on Chardonnay, please.
-Thank you very much.
As we lose sight of the dogs,
the favourite, Huntsman's Dazzler, is leading.
Molly and Chardonnay are in hot pursuit.
As soon as anybody sees them, shout them.
Don't be shy.
-Got it, got it.
He's steaming ahead. Is that Molly in third?
He's got a good lead, though, Huntsman's Dazzler.
-Yes! Molly's going to have a place.
Come on, darling.
Get on, love.
Any sign of Chardonnay?
-Chardonnay's in second!
I should have bought an each-way bet. Damn!
This is unbelievable.
We're now actually racing each other.
Cos I'm in third and you're in second.
'But I'm not laughing for long because Molly soon overtakes.
'The race is really on for second place.'
-Yes, Molly's second!
Catchers on your marks, behind the barrier. >
That means get into position and shout, "Chicken, chicken, chicken."
Is that what it does mean?
'The favourite, Huntsman's Dazzler, is the clear winner,
'coming in way ahead of the rest of the pack.'
It's just extraordinary.
Do we clap? I don't know. I feel the need to. It's extraordinary.
But our race is still on.
Which hound is going to appear first in the battle for second place?
Is that Molly? It's Molly! Come on, Molly!
Hey, Moll, hey, Moll, hey, Moll!
Come on, Molly! Here she comes.
Oh, let's get in there with the chicken.
What about that? That is brilliant. You must be delighted with that.
-A fantastic result. Well done.
When am I going to get a drink of Chardonnay?
Well, I don't know,
but I just got myself a quid so I'll buy you a hot dog.
'Chardonnay crossed the line in third
'and now it's time for those post-race rewards for Miss Molly.'
Cup of tea and a bath. There you are, my darling.
The last few dogs cross the line, but it's home time for Miss Molly.
It's been a great introduction to hound trailing.
I'm celebrating the amazing contribution
that dogs and horses make to our countryside,
so in honour of this special edition of Countryfile,
my farm is being taken over by them.
-Isn't it lovely? What's his name?
-And how old is he, then?
-Well, Levi's five and he's a shire.
He's a lovely, isn't he? Ready for a bit of work?
-Yes, I'm sure he is.
-Right, I'll watch you go on.
Levi's pulling a harrow, which rakes over the soil.
It's a brilliant way of aerating grass and arable land
and improving the quality of the ground.
There's 1,600 acres on this farm
so I'm always grateful for any extra help.
And you'd be surprised what one man and a horse can achieve.
And this job, the harrowing, is not ideal in these conditions?
No, no. It's the sort of job you'd have done in the spring, really.
PAUL CALLS TO LEVI
And how many acres would one person
be able to plough with a shire in a day?
With a pair of horses, yeah,
they'd be doing, oh, an acre a day
walking 11 miles for that acre.
-And in all conditions.
I mean, there's a bit of snow on the ground today,
but presumably when it's chucking it down with rain
-you've just got to get wrapped up warm.
Of course, the old boys in those days,
they'd have a bit of sack on their shoulders and keep warm that way.
The shire has changed a lot over the years, haven't they?
Why did they go out of fashion?
I think it was the Second World War, really.
You know, the tractor came along
and that was able to do all the work on the land, you know?
There's nothing like a shire or a heavy horse
working the fields, you know?
They've got that immense power that just puts goosepimples up your neck.
That really is a wonderful sight.
It's so special, with man working in perfect harmony with the horse.
And it's great that people like Paul
are keeping this age-old tradition alive.
It's so important. It's part of our living heritage.
Strong, sturdy horses like Levi belong to the land,
to a rural way of life.
They'd look pretty out of place in the stables of Windsor,
where Jules spent a grand day with the light cavalry.
Now, as you might expect with its royal connections,
Windsor Castle has a long and illustrious military pedigree.
Some of our most famous guards regiments
have been based here for centuries
and, of course, horse guards are based here just down the road,
but this is Flemish Farm, right on the edge of Windsor Great Park
and this is home to The Light Cavalry.
The Light Cavalry aren't a fighting troop
but a band of volunteers and equine enthusiasts
dedicated to keeping alive the military skills of the past
combined with a good slice of pomp and circumstance.
Now, you may well have seen The Light Cavalry
at events like the Lord Mayor's show and the Royal Tournament.
This is tent pegging. As you can see, it's not that easy.
I'm going to be finding out just how hard it can be a little later on,
but while we may associate today's military horses
with ceremonial duties, of course, in the past it wasn't always like that.
Hi, Keith. I found you, hard at work on the tack room.
-Nice to meet you.
-Nice to see you, too.
Now, the display out there of the tent pegging is fantastic,
but tell me a bit more about where those skills come from
in terms of our military pedigree.
What you saw outside -
the tent pegging with sword and lances -
comes out of the way the cavalry operated
in the 18th and 19th centuries in the army.
They were largely picked up by the British Army
from their experience of meeting Indian cavalry units
as the British were taking over India
and they translated into not only an excellent exercise in skill at arms,
which translates, I suppose you would think,
of taking a modern rifleman on the rifle range,
but also it became a competitive element between cavalry units.
The better you were at tent pegging,
the better you were likely to be on the battlefield.
There's an indoor school for me to get to grips with the tent pegging technique,
but thankfully I'm not alone -
I've got expert tent pegger Paul Allison to help me.
We swing the lance back the way it's just came,
swinging it up, up in front of you,
across the body, OK, to position five...
So it's nice and clear of Bob.
Yeah, nice and clear, six. Back to the trail.
-Because that's my big concern, is this waving around Bob here.
I don't want to skewer him. I only want a peg, not a horse.
Luckily for Bob, first up are some practice drills with a dummy lance.
Oh, that was rubbish.
Nice and low.
-OK, one, two, three, four...
-Ah, no, I missed it.
Still drifting a little bit at the end,
-but that's not a problem. We can sort that out.
You do make this look very easy, you know.
Eventually, Paul decides I'm ready
for the real, rather sharp and pointy, lance.
Down on to your peg.
And I missed it at walk.
What hope have I got at a canter?
Well, I am getting nearer with each attempt.
And then finally...
..I got it.
What do you think, Bob? A bowl of oats?
Well, I may not be ready for a full tent pegging exhibition just yet,
but Paul has a surprise in store.
Well, I thought my day here with The Light Cavalry was over, but no -
look, I've been transformed into a Light Cavalry trooper.
Even Bob's had a makeover
and has been joined by a couple of chums for some pageantry practice.
You know, I've done a lot of things on horses,
but this has to be a first.
And what horses.
And what a uniform.
As tonight's programme is a tribute to dogs and horses,
I've got a special visitor on the farm.
This is Levi and I've been hearing how good working shires like this
are hard to find these days.
And Paul, his owner, has just gone to fetch his workmate,
but apparently he's not quite what you'd expect.
Here he comes. My word, Levi.
That's a bit of an embarrassment, isn't it?
Hello, Paul. Goodness me.
I was expecting you to have another shire. What's this all about?
Well, this is... This is Dennis, the Shetland.
Lovely little Shetland, but why not another shire?
Well, Shetlands are very strong little animals
and they can get into places where the bigger horses can't.
And a good working horse?
Oh, yes. They were used in the pits
and, of course, in Scotland for pulling the peat out from the bogs
and taking it back to the farms.
-And presumably you don't necessarily work them together.
We've got another Shetland at home
and we can actually work the pair of Shetlands together
and they'll pull probably equally as much as one single shire.
Incredible. Are they good mates?
Oh, yes. Yeah, they'll have a look at each other in the field.
I see he's got his own ready-made mini harrows.
Oh, yes. Yeah. Home-made job, but he can pull that easily.
Walk on, then.
I've got to see these two fellas walking side-by-side,
just for the sheer spectacle.
I can tell they enjoy each other's company.
Well, despite their size difference, they're both great working animals
and Paul's so good with them, quiet and gentle,
and they're obviously much loved.
It's a long time since heavy horses had to plough the fields.
Tractors took over and agriculture never looked back.
But one working animal remains at the heart of farming life.
Like generations before me, I still use sheepdogs.
We couldn't have a programme about horses and dogs
without getting my working sheepdogs involved.
This is Pearl and then Millie. Millie, behind. Here.
This is Millie, who I share with my livestock manager, Mike.
She works for both of us.
Come by. Come by.
I'm just rounding up these ewe lambs.
These are this year's female lambs
that we're keeping for breeding for next year
and I'm working the dogs by using four commands, really.
A right-hand command, which is "away",
a left-hand command which is "by", and then a "stop" and a "walk on".
Sounds simple, really, but I have to tell you
that neither me nor my dogs are anywhere near good enough
to enter into the World Sheepdog Championships.
But that didn't stop Helen and Matt
braving the rain at the championships in Cumbria two years ago.
Matt is very proud of his farming heritage,
but so am I and I know that he likes to think of himself
as a bit of a dab hand when it comes to handling sheep.
I, however, have no experience handling sheep.
That's why I'm calling on you, Mark.
You are my guru for this
Because I'm throwing down the gauntlet to Baker on my home turf,
so I've got to win.
-We'll do our best.
I've enlisted the help of local farmer Mark Elliott.
Together with his trusty dog, Spot,
he's one of this years hot favourites.
-So to get him to come over I say, "That'll do."
-That'll do, Spot, yes.
That'll do, Spot.
-Be a bit more assertive.
-That'll do, Spot!
That'll do, Spot. Spot, That'll do.
-That'll do, Spot. That'll do, good lad.
-That'll do, Spot.
-He's not really listening to me, is he?
'One word from me and Spot does just what he wants.'
How do I get him to go right?
-Now, the basic one is for the right-hand side it's "way".
-And for the left, it's "come by".
-Ask her for the way.
'Hmm. This could take some doing.
'Luckily Mark's going to be right by my side for the showdown.'
Lie down. Lie down.
Spot, that'll do.
Right, let battle commence.
May the best presenter win, and never mind the weather.
Come on, Spot. Here we go.
-How are you doing, Helen? All right?
-I'm very good.
So you're fully trained up then, I understand, yes?
Yes. I'm good, well... I say that. You've had a lot of training, I hear.
Well, not with this dog, unfortunately.
Unfortunately, my dog, Meg, is no longer with me
so I've borrowed Tim from a good friend of mine, Gus Dermody.
Not only have I borrowed his dog, I've borrowed his outfit as well,
cos, as you can see, the weather's taken a turn for the worse.
So Gus is the judge. You are literally in the judge's pocket.
Absolutely. Actually, Gus, can I borrow your crook as well?
-Yes, yes. You can have that, yes.
-I'm a fully kitted out now.
-Right, well, we're ready for this, aren't we, Mark?
And Spot is poised.
Will Spot listen to you, do you think?
Cos I've got no idea about Tim.
Apparently, Spot is not too familiar with the female voice,
so Mark is going to walk with me and then echo what I say.
-IN GRUFF VOICE:
-You're just going to talk like that.
But there is a problem, because we'll be lucky
if the dogs can hear anything we say over this weather.
I'm hoping I've got a bit of beginner's luck.
-An expert in the field, Matt's first to take on the course.
-He's pretty wide round the pen, here.
-He's got to keep them flowing all the time.
It sounds simple - get five sheep through a gate and into a pen,
but these girls are stubborn customers.
So he's got them through the obstacles,
and now they need to head for the pen.
Lie down. Away. Lie down!
-Yeah, he's got them in the pen.
-Oh, well done.
Yay! What a good boy. What a good lad.
'Oh, not a bad start for Helen and Spot.
-Oh, we've gone wrong.
-That's not too bad.
-I hope they don't go round the wrong side.
-Oh, he's keen, isn't he?
-Come by you.
-Good control there, keeping the sheep nice and calm.
-The pen, Helen.
Go on. Get them in.
Lie down, now. Lie down.
-That's a very good pen.
-That's a clean pen.
He'll come to you now. That'll do, Spot.
-Well, I thought that was impressive.
-I certainly was impressed.
-My word, Helen.
What are you doing on this field?
You should be up there, man, competing.
Well, I think it's fair to say I had a very good teacher
-who chipped in now and again.
But, to be honest, we could have left Spot to his own devices.
He was quite happy out there on his own. Good dog.
He thoroughly enjoyed it. The sheep have too.
Look, they're sticking around. They want to know who's won.
-Gus, what's the result?
-Really you were level pegging,
but on a technicality you got it because Helen went and moved.
-You moved from the post from the pen when you set the dog off.
-Yeah. Unfortunately for you, great for Matt.
-That's a made-up rule!
Some world-class athletes there. The dogs, of course.
I've given up all hope of trying to get my sheepdogs to that kind of standard,
but I might have a better chance with my gun dog, Boo.
Come on then, Boo.
Gun dogs like Labradors and retrievers
have different instincts to sheepdogs
and therefore different skills.
Boo's less than a year old, so to help me unlock her potential
I've invited trainer Annie Wales to the farm.
She's also brought along her four-year-old Labrador, Brockweir Fleurie,
to show me what a top-trained gun dog can do.
Now then, Boo - pay attention.
Shall I show you how... What we call Hunt The Area,
where we send them out to an area
where we know there's been something.
-And I've buried two tennis balls out there.
So hopefully she may find them.
Let me put mine on a lead otherwise she'll go and get them.
Fleurie has no idea where the balls are hidden.
The whistle directs her to the right area and her nose does the rest.
It's exactly how she'd pick up and retrieve game in the shooting field.
What a good girl. Excellent. There you are, she's found it.
What's with the tissue in your hand?
Oh, this is just because she can see this more clearly
than she can just see a hand. You know, if I'm all dressed in green
and you've got green in the background...
-Like a flag, so she can see it?
-Yes, yes, that's right.
Well, that was absolutely brilliantly behaved.
How long did it take you to get her to learn that?
I suppose you start when they're about six months and you go along...
She was probably about 18 months
by the time she'd really, sort of, mastered it.
-Good girl. Good little girl.
-Well, that was a very impressive.
-Thank you very much.
-How will I get Boo to that kind of standard,
and where do I get started? I've done very little with her.
Right, well, first of all, what do you want to do with her?
-What's your aim?
-Well, I love her to do some work,
you know, picking up or beating, and I really want her to be obedient
and easy to handle for me and the family around the house
and when we're out walking.
So she's a pet and a working dog combined...
-..which is ideal.
OK, but really, before you start anything to do with retrieving,
you need to get the basics in order.
-The first of which is recall.
-Calling them back?
Yeah, calling them back, and the easiest way to do that
is when you feed them. You put the food down,
or even before you put the food down,
blow the recall whistle, feed them.
So they associate coming back with being, you know,
-something really nice.
-So that's recall. What else?
-Steadiness. Want to try that now?
-Yeah, I could do.
-OK, set her up facing you.
-Boo. Sit. Sit. Oh.
Sit. I think I need to work on my sit.
-OK, now what?
-Tap it. "Mark."
-And throw it over your head.
Leave her there and you walk backwards and pick it up.
-Do you see that paw, Adam? She's practically on point.
Oh, there we go. A very good first lesson.
-Well, there you...
-Boo, boo, boo! Here.
I've obviously got quite a long way to go with little Boo, here,
but she's done quite well for the first time, hasn't she?
She's done very well indeed, yes. Good girl.
-Right, you have that for a minute.
-She's very excited by the dummy.
Don't let her eat it, will you?
Even a dog's natural hunting instinct is impressive
but imagine being on the receiving end once it's trained and homed.
That keen sense of smell tracking you down and sniffing you out.
Ellie's heart was racing when she became live quarry
for a pack of blood hounds.
This is the Clean Boot Hunt in Derbyshire.
It's a sport that pits man against beast.
Or should that be woman?
The idea is to send a pack of bloodhounds to track and catch
a human over a set course and today the bait is me,
but, first things first, I have to let the bloodhounds catch my scent.
Lee Mansfield is well used to being a quarry
and he's going to be running with me today as bait
and that's not to be sniffed out.
OK, hounds, get a whiff of me.
-So, Lee, how long do you need in here?
-Just a few minutes.
That's all we need, then they've got your scent.
I've definitely got their scent, I'm telling you. Phew!
'These guys should try smelling each other
'because it's quite pungent in here
'but apparently to them, girls smell stronger than boys.
'I'm not taking this personally.'
I think I'm ready for a run now.
'I'm covered in drool, wet paw prints and now I smell like a hound.
'Lee does this all the time for fun.'
Lee, this is a bit of an odd hobby, isn't it,
getting chased by a pack of hounds for fun?
-It's a bit different, yeah.
-Why do you do it?
-For fitness really.
I'm quite a keen runner and got into it through someone at work
that came to the hunt to watch his wife ride the horses.
-I got in through that.
-What about normal running? Why won't that do?
Well, there's a bit of a different edge.
When you're getting chased your personal best seems to improve
so you drive on a bit more.
Do you find your heart rate is up because you're being chased?
Yeah, it does add to the adrenaline as well.
What's it like getting caught by the hounds?
-I've not been caught yet so I don't know.
-You've never been caught?
-No, not yet.
-An unblemished record...
-..that I'm about to ruin for you.
'Well, I can't delay this any longer. It's time for the off.
'The quarry gets driven to the start point
'and we get a 20-minute advantage. I really hope that's enough.'
-Right, Lee, this is it now.
-Yeah, I'm terrified.
OK. Is that your pace?
Oh my god, Lee, slow it down.
-You all right?
-We've got a good head start to start with.
Oh my goodness, I'm going to need a rest.
'20 minutes flies by, and back on the start line, the hunt is on.'
Psychologically, this is terrifying.
The thought of horses and hounds thundering after you is really scary.
I have huge admiration for Lee.
Being a quarry is tougher than cross-country running.
Keeping up the pace and negotiating the course from memory is amazing.
He has some tricks up his sleeve to slow the hounds down too.
Obviously, if you do straight lines, that's what they're going to do.
-They can go a lot quicker.
If you put some loops in, it's harder for them to scent.
I've got a stitch. I'm walking.
-You all right?
-Yeah, I think I can hear them.
'Bloodhounds are named after their fine bloodline
'rather than their taste for it,
'which is lucky for me because they're catching up.'
-There they are.
They're over there.
Absolutely killing me.
'This is really tough. I don't think I'm going to make it to the end.'
-They're coming close.
-Oh god, they're here, they're here. I can hear them.
Come on. You're doing well.
-That's it, you've done one line.
-I've done one line.
'That was exhilarating, terrifying and exhausting,
'but at last, with my lungs burning,
'I've made it alive to the end of the first section.'
The hounds are just coming now.
That sound has been with me the whole way round.
Terrifying my every move. There's the bugles and the shouting.
The shouting that feels like you're a fugitive on the run.
Oh, Lee, look, he's not even out of breath.
'The next bit of the hunt is a bit of a surprise.
'Everyone stops for a nice glass of, um, port.'
-What is it, a tradition?
-A tradition, yes.
Just a glass of port.
-In which case, I'll have to join you.
'Hmm, that warmed me up. Shame there isn't a cheeseboard though.'
But there's no cheeky tipple for Lee.
He's off again and I don't want to slow him down
and ruin his chances of beating the hounds,
so I've decided to meet him at the finish line.
The course is split into sections called lines,
so the hounds can travel safely down roads to the next field.
The course changes every week and routes depend on grazing livestock
and landowners' permission.
This is the final finish line and Lee should be here any minute now
which is just as well cos it's getting dark.
'And after 12 miles of hard slog,
'he finally arrives just ahead of the hounds,
'his record of not being caught intact.'
Give me this. Good work, and look, here they come.
-That's so close.
-Close, that one.
Absolutely brilliant. What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Back in the Cotswolds, it's time to feed my wild ponies.
I wanted to show you the Exmoors
but the donkeys are stealing the limelight.
I'll see if I can call them over.
Come on, Exmoors. Come on.
Here they come.
There's a good girl.
The Exmoor is a really lovely breed.
The ancestor of most British horses really.
Very ancient and incredibly hardy.
Lives on the moors of Exmoor
and has this wonderful thick coat with a downy underneath
and then guard hairs on the top.
A very strong forehead so the rain runs off their eyes.
Short, thick mane and a tail that fans out over their rump
so they can turn their backs to the wind in the winter.
A very long way removed
from the fast, fine, athletic racehorses that we have today,
but you serve your purpose, don't you?
Lovely animals. I adore them. I've had them ever since I was a child.
What happens when you combine racehorse speed with a terrain
perhaps more suited to an Exmoor pony?
Julia headed to the East Riding of Yorkshire a couple of years ago
for one of the most exciting events in the racing calendar -
the Kiplingcoates Derby.
Ahh, you can sense the tranquillity in the air. Isn't it lovely?
But I've got a feeling this peace and quiet is about to be broken.
If you know where to look, there's a telling clue as to what
really sets pulses racing around here.
Just once a year, there's an event held here
which is steeped in history, tinged with eccentricity
and runs to some rather quirky rules.
A horse race to be observed
and rid yearly on the third Thursday in March.
These ancient rules are the foundations
of the Kiplingcoates Derby.
Reputed to be England's oldest horse race,
it's been run every year since 1519,
when Henry VIII's gentry surveyed this landscape.
Today, they're all getting ready
to take up the challenge for the 493rd time.
But it's not like your typical derby course.
This pitted dirt track IS the racecourse.
Veteran rider Stephen Crawford's going to show me the pitfalls.
Stephen lives on the course and has ridden the race eight times,
so he knows better than anyone what the riders this year
are letting themselves in for,
a potentially lethal mix of sticky mud and slippery tarmac.
So this is pretty much the first danger point,
because there's only one way across the crossroads
and that's from this corner diagonally across.
They'll be going at full pelt now.
Well, they'll be doing probably north of 30 miles an hour here,
so you've got to get it angled right.
You can now see the racecourse for quite a distance,
you can see it stretching away in the distance there.
-At this point you've still only done a third of the race.
The course stretches for a strenuous four miles across fields
and farmland tracks.
This is a tricky bit to navigate.
This is probably the second most dangerous part on the course.
You've done now two and a half miles,
you've got a mile and a half to go, the horse is starting to tire.
One foot wrong in there and you don't come out, horse or rider.
And once you've made here then there's the hill.
That's if you've got it in you, and the horse has got anything left.
Generally who takes the hill takes the race.
Every horse that runneth for this prize shall put their stake
into the clerk's hand at or before 11 of the clock.
And to enter? Well, all you have to do is show up on the day
and pay your stake of four gold coins.
Today that's four gold pounds.
And at that price the field's open to anyone.
Including IT manager Emma.
So, Emma, you're a first-timer.
This is my very first time doing the Kiplingcoates Derby, which is
probably accounting for the terrible nerves I've got at the moment.
-Oh, are you really nervous?
-I'm very nervous.
I know I'll be fine once I get on him
and focus on what I'm doing in the race.
Tell me a little bit about the horse.
Well, he's ten years old, he's an Irish thoroughbred.
I've done a lot of hunting and team chasing on him, so he's good
on all terrain, which is what he needs for this kind of race,
because this is not Cheltenham.
Why, is the question. Why are you taking part?
It was the history of the race that really captured my imagination.
I'd love to win it, I'd love to be able to tell my grandchildren
that I had a Derby winner.
-Let me have a look in your eyes.
-Do I look like a winner?
-Yeah, you look like a winner.
'John, on the other hand, really is a winner.
'He's won it for the last three years on the trot.'
-Today, you're the man to beat.
-But you've got a new horse on this outing.
-Yes. Yeah, this is Bob.
-It's the first time Bob's been...
-In the Kiplingcoates Derby, yeah.
I've got to ask you, because you're a pretty extraordinary horseman.
You hadn't sat on a horse before the age of...42, was it?
I took up riding at the age of 42.
-But I've always been a horse racing fan.
-Yeah, so I just got the bug.
-You certainly did.
As long as we get to the end and everybody is safe and well,
that's the number one aim.
-Is that the main priority for you?
It's not the winning, even though you've won three times?
If I won today and this horse was lame in the morning,
I'd be gutted.
-Well, good luck today.
-Thank you very much indeed.
The Kiplingcoates Derby has particular rules
about the weight of the jockey.
-Right, weigh-in time. So, now, what have you got to be?
I've been eating chocolate eclairs for three weeks.
I tell you what, you're just about there.
But the thing that makes this race special
is the way the riders are brought up to weight.
-Couple of potatoes, or...?
-Potato lady. Brilliant.
-Get the Maris Pipers in.
-Look, one more for luck!
Right. It's just past 11, which means the race is closed.
These are our runners and riders. 12 of them.
With the adrenaline rising,
it's time to make the four-mile trek to the start line.
Good luck, Bob.
Now all we have to do is wait,
tension mounting until the intrepid dozen reappear on the horizon.
And they're off.
The course hasn't changed much.
It wouldn't look unfamiliar to the hunting gentlemen who started
this tradition to test the fitness of their horses after a long winter.
In today's race, though, it's our first-timer Emma,
in pink, who's snatched an early lead.
-What incidents of note have happened over the years?
-You get injuries.
Injuries to horses. Horses pull legs. The ground changes, it's uneven.
You can pull a tendon and you can damage a joint.
Occasionally a horse collapses through exhaustion or fatigue.
There's so much excitement and so much adrenaline pulling
that they fight to get across the crossroads and, you know,
you're steering on marbles and you go down like a sack of spuds.
One guy did it and broke two legs and one arm and his ribs.
Never sat on a horse after that.
As they head for the finish,
the chasing field is bearing down on Emma.
We're on standby, waiting. Will she be pipped to the post?
Now, the thoroughbreds should come in first, the Ferraris of the pack.
The stragglers, the Morris Minors,
well, who knows where they'll be?
-It's Emma. That's Emma!
'So close. But Emma will have to settle for second this year.'
That's John, I think, in third.
-Well, we haven't won this year.
He hasn't lost any ground down here, but he couldn't quite get to them.
'Well, it's not four in a row for John.
'This year's winner is local stable lass Sally Ireland.
'After two previous attempts, it's a case of third time lucky.'
-You were determined to win.
-Yes! Yeah, I was, yeah.
-I saw you and Emma were really battling it out.
I actually didn't think it would be her who would be with me at the end,
so all credit to her, she did really well!
I heard this yell. You and Sally were first and second.
I think you might have been in the lead.
Well, I led all the way up to the last part of the green lane,
and she came up on my inside.
Hey, he ran a blinder.
He led everybody round that course. I'm really pleased. I'll be back.
Yes. I knew she had a fighting spirit, I could see it in her eyes.
'The winner's name will join the very, very long list of those
'who've triumphed here over the last five centuries.'
Many congratulations, there you go, there is your trophy. Congrats.
And there's your money too. Cheers, well done.
This is a Countryfile with a difference,
because tonight the stars of the show are horses and dogs.
Dolly and I have come to a livery yard near my farm,
where they have almost as many dogs as horses.
I'm going to show you just how well they get along together.
A common sight round this neck of the woods are people out riding
and walking their dogs at the same time.
You're always out riding with your dogs, taking them across the fields.
Yes, I am. They just love it.
As soon as they see the tack coming out,
they know it's their exercise, they just love it.
And do you have to train them to do that or do they just learn the way?
I'd train them if I could take them on the road
but nowadays we don't go on the road very often, because there are
many more cars than there used to be, so basically we just go on
the bridle paths or on people's land who very kindly let us go riding.
Some people might think it's a bit stressful for the dog, or dangerous.
Not at all.
I mean, I actually, years ago, had an old dog that I couldn't stop.
I used to shut him in a stable
and he used to jump the stable door and come out and chase us.
They love it, absolutely love it.
And do you think the horses build up a bit of a relationship with them?
They understand each other?
I think they definitely...yes, and they wait for each other.
You know, they're keen. When you're going out,
the horses are aware the dogs are with us and we're off out riding.
-Ready to go?
-OK, let's get mounted.
Right, we're off for a ride
and we'll be picking up lots of four-legged friends along the way.
But first we need to know what the weather's got in store
for the week ahead, so here's the Countryfile forecast.
Tonight's Countryfile has been dedicated to horses and dogs,
two loyal animals that bring their own special characters
to the countryside.
Local stable owner Leslie and I have got a few of our neighbours
together, and their dogs, for a ride in the Cotswolds.
We make quite a pack.
Well, we've picked up a few extras.
We've got William and Milly here with all their hounds.
Look at all these dogs. Are you OK, you two?
Yeah, very happy, but a bit chilly.
There's something very special about this, isn't there?
Yes, it's beautiful, isn't it?
I mean, where else would you get to do this?
-I know. The children, the dogs.
Lovely way of life.
I mean, for you, you're making a living and have all of this.
-Have we still got you?
I reckon it's time for mince pies and a cup of tea, don't you?
-Oh, sounds good to me!
-Right, let's jump off here, shall we?
'The cold is really biting,
'so I'm not the only one ready for refreshment.'
-What a good horse.
-All right? Well done.
Grab a mince pie, there.
Well, these dogs and horses, and kids, are out in all weathers,
and they absolutely love it.
And it was about this time of year when Matt and Julia went to
the snowy Cairngorms in Scotland, and that's husky territory.
As is tradition on Countryfile, Baker and Bradbury were up for a bit
of competition, and the conditions were ideal for dogsled racing.
Before being let loose on the track, they'd got
a lesson from the pros, including seasoned sled racer Hugh Wakker.
I've seen you go, Hugh.
If I'm to have any chance of beating Matt in a race,
what do I need to know?
Right, first thing is, just trust the dogs.
Keep the lines tight, don't let you get any slack in the lines.
Stay off... As long as you're happy that the dogs are in control
and you're in control, stay off the brakes.
-If you want to brake, just slow them down with that.
-The doormat, as I call it.
-Call it the doormat, whatever you want.
And you kind of feather that, as you go?
Yeah, and to stop dead you can use the big brake in front of you.
-This pedal here? Just push?
-Yeah. And that will stop you dead.
If you do that too hard without slowing down first,
it could send you over, a bit like a bike, over the handlebars.
'To get the feel of the sled, Helen started me off with just two dogs.'
-And we're off!
Oh, I tell you what, they don't hang around!
Good boys! And then the right and straight down the bank.
Come on, lads!
'My two are pretty keen to get going.'
Come on, hike! Hike! Hike!
Come on, lads, come on!
Dogsled racing's not an easy skill to master,
so, having seen us in training, it's up to Hugh and Judy,
in the yellow corner, and Matt and Helen, in the purple corner,
to decide if we're good enough to race.
-Right, what's happening? Have we decided?
-Well, what do you think, Helen?
-I don't know.
-We think you did all right.
-We did all right? Good.
-Think you did pretty well.
-Are we allowed to race with your dogs?
-That's the question.
Yes, we are. Good, lovely!
'In fact, Helen and Judy think we're good enough to race with
'three of their fastest dogs,
'but we're not going to tackle the entire four-mile track today.
'We're racing each other against the clock over a short distance.'
Three, two, one. Go!
There we go, we're off, we're off!
Wahey, I've pulled a wheelie! Oh, lovely stuff. Go on, girls!
Hike, hike, hike!
-If he stays on that, it'll be a miracle.
Ooh, it's a bit rickety there. Straight through.
Oh, they're kicking up some snow!
Come on, girls, get up! Hike, hike, hike!
Oh, I've taken a turn. Oh, I just caught a bit there.
Hike, hike, hike!
-Hike, hike! Hike, hike!
'Approaching the final stretch, I'm looking for any advantage
'I can get, bobbing down to make meself more aerodynamic.'
Hike, hike! Come on! Go, go, go!
And brakes are on.
'1 minute 42 to beat.'
Wow, I can't hardly see.
-You've got tears in your eyes!
-Oh, that is brilliant.
It's literally a takeoff, to start with.
It's a bit tricky on that left-hand side,
you might sort of go up as the dogs try and go right.
'Now it's my turn.'
Are we going?
-two, one. Let's go.
Hike! Hike, hike, hike, hike! Hike, hike, hike!
'Poor dogs, I can't shut up.'
It's a good start.
I tell you what, she's in the groove as well.
Hike, hike, hike! Come on, move!
Go! Hike, hike, hike, hike, hike, hike! Whoa!
I'm over! I'm over! Oi! Stop!
-I'm still going. I'm still going.
-You know that turn into the snow?
-The bit I... Yeah.
-Yeah, you've got half of it on your helmet.
Hike, hike! Whoa!
-Are you all right, though?
-I'm absolutely fine.
-No aches or pains?
-No aches or pains.
But I've lost something quite important. Not the race, the dogs.
-You might want to take that as a souvenir.
-Thank you. Might melt.
Thankfully, this bunch of faithful friends stayed by our side,
probably in the hope of something to eat.
It's not much warmer than the Cairngorms in the Cotswolds today,
so everybody's glad to warm up with a mince pie and a cuppa.
Including the dogs.
Well, thank you so much, Leslie, that was great fun.
-It's a pleasure, Adam.
-There we are, I've got some treats for the horses.
And some for the dogs.
And here we are, over here, William has got the Countryfile calendar.
You can still get your hands on one, even though it's New Year.
And details on how to get hold of them are on our website.
-You hang onto that. Are you a bit cold?
-Phwoar, me too.
Well, that's it from the Cotswolds and our lovely four-legged friends.
Next week we're in Hertfordshire,
where we'll be finding out how the rural special constables
are helping the police fight crime in the countryside.
-Hope you can join us then. ALL:
-Happy New Year!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Adam Henson takes a look at our favourite four-legged friends in the countryside - horses and dogs. He invites some of the most charming of the breeds onto his farm in the Cotswolds, sees how heavy horses still pull their weight in the fields and finds out whether his gun dog has any natural instincts at all.
Looking back into the Countryfile archives to see how the two animals are an integral part of rural life, Adam revisits the time when Julia Bradbury and Matt Baker raced husky dogs in the snowy Cairngorms, when Ellie Harrison became the quarry for a pack of blood hounds and when Jules Hudson spent a day out with the Light Cavalry.