Country Life talks to gundog trainer Howard Kirby, who will be giving a demonstration at Cornbury Park in June.
Howard Kirby is the proprietor of Mullenscote Dog Training Centre and Lains Shooting School.
Describe what you do:
“I run Lains Shooting School, which is a clay pigeon school, and I also train people and their dogs, specialising in gundogs. I’ve been doing this since 1987.”
How did you get in to your line of work?
“I’d always wanted to work with dogs, but my heart was set on a career in agriculture, so the logical answer was to work with sheep.
“Turns out it wasn’t my cup of tea, and I got to the point that I couldn’t stand the sight of sheep, so that went out the window and I started working with outdoor pigs. Eventually I set up an outdoor pig herd, went self-employed and did it for myself.
“Around this time I was given a black Labrador puppy – Margot – and I trained her using my own instincts.
“One day, we were out picking up, and the couple in front of me – the local Pony Club DC and her husband – were impressed with what they saw in Margot. She asked if I’d help with her dog, which I did, and she was pleased.
“It went from there really, and news spread via the jungle telegraph. I found myself training lots of dogs so in 1989 I opened Lains Shooting School and Mullenscote Gun Dogs at Quarley.”
What is your USP?
“First and foremost this is what I do for a living, I’ve done it for a very long time and I’m passionate about it. It’s a way of life for me, so there are no gimmicks or tricks, just experience and a love of training dogs that drives me. I also like to help to help other people achieve with their dogs.”
Why should people come and see you at the Cornbury Park Field & Country Fair?
“I hope we’ll entertain them, and I hope they’ll find it educational. When I was forty, I got a degree in teaching, specifically so I could do my job better, so I hope that our audience will learn something.
“The truth is, we have a team of dogs that are great to watch. So even if you’re not particularly interested in gundog training, I hope you would enjoy our arena demonstration. Of course, I’m slightly biased, but they really are amazing to watch.”
Mullenscote Dog Training Centre (www.mullenscote.co.uk; 01264 889 467)
To purchase tickets, and find out more about the Field & Country Fair at Cornbury Park visit: www.fieldandcountryfair.com