How many huntsmen are hunting hounds at eighty years of age? Or to add a twist to that question, how many huntsmen having achieved that age have already hunted hounds for the previous fifty seasons?
Billy Vance, Master and huntsman of the Fermanagh Harriers, has achieved this remarkable milestone. To see him hunting hounds is inspiring, humbling, and brings home just how lucky we all are to be able to follow great horsemen like him across the countryside.
Vance is special—a consummate and stylish horseman across what can only be termed as challenging hunting country with drains, banks, walls, and wire to contend with. And he is usually riding horses he bred himself. He is a genius with a pack of hounds, but don’t get in his way when they are running! If Ireland is in need of role models in these difficult economic circumstances, then Billy Vance fits the bill. He never seeks attention, yet is respected not just in his own hunt but by the hunting fraternity at large. And it is sometimes difficult to get a photograph of him.
“I am not into photos!” he says.