The cottage where I live in the heart of Cornwall is near a crossroads and all of the approach roads are up hill. It was because of this I picked Polmennor as my affix which in Cornish means ‘end of a hill’.
My love of all animals came at an early age. My dad still had a retired working horse on the farm and I loved to spend time milking the cows and feeding the calves.
Ponies and horses became a big part of my life, seven lived at home over the years four of whom stayed until the end of their days and I still have Tara a pony born in 1981 who was bred by me but now retired.
My Mum had owned cocker spaniels but as a child I can only remember the dachshunds which came one at a time to start with and were all shapes and sizes but always black and tan. Latterly I had two Miniature Long Haireds of my own, Gretl and Leisl.
The first Irish Setter came into our lives in 1976. Mum decided to have a change of breed and off we went to see a litter of nine advertised locally. We had the pick of all the puppies and chose a bitch and called her Heidi. She turned out to be the most unruly animal you could wish to own, she had the run of the farm and when we called her to come in she just ran round and round the garden at full speed, she spent nearly every day in the fields with dad and so mum had yet another dachshund!
I got married and was dog-less but after Heidi’s departure at 13 years old Mum and Dad were fortunate enough to have the opportunity of buying Smallcroft Gretel (Katy), she was purchased initially as a pet but as we were no longer showing or competing the horses we had the time to venture into dog showing and Katy ended up having a successful show career winning a CC in 1985 at Gundog Society of Wales Champ show. Unlike Heidi, Katy was the most well behaved setter you could wish to own. I showed her through the whole of her show career and she never let me down, she loved the showring and always gave her very best. She won her last first prize in Veteran at Southern Counties 1999 at 10 years old, just six weeks before bloat took her from us.
When Katy was five I was keen to get an Irish Setter of my own and I was able to have the pick of bitches from a litter bred by Jayne Mugford. This was Lynwood Castaspell Over Polmennor. Slow to mature, Magic won two RCCs as a veteran 18 Best Veteran in Shows at open shows and two years running won the Veteran Stakes at the Gundog Society of Wales championship show.. Thankfully I had Jayne to advise me when Magic was young as where Katy had done all that was asked of her this one needed handling! At 3 years old and most obstacles overcome she became a pleasure to live with and show. When attending the ‘Top Dog of Cornwall’ event all qualifiers have to submit a few words about the dog they are showing. My friend wrote this about Magic…
(One chicken unfortunately died despite attempts to revive him with brandy and the false teeth were my Mum’s and she was not amused when she had to wait a month for new ones).
All of her attempts to make me hate her in those early years just did not work. I was totally devoted to this mad setter, Her outgoing nature made her exciting to show. I loved her so much and was heartbroken when she was put to sleep at 12 ½ years old.
Magic was very special to me as apart from being my first Irish Setter she was the start of my Polmennor Irish Setters.