Sunrise at Ocean Beach with Moulin in a frame from the film “Instinct”, shot in 2003 when she was nearly two years old.
Moulin on Ocean Beach with Hayley in February 2002, shortly after her arrival in New Zealand, just turning six months old.
I arrived in New Zealand in 1998 and soon struck a close friendship with the legendary Wingfield breeder Dr Leon Mortensen. After several years focusing on English Pointers I wanted to return to English Setters. I started searching for a strong English Setter bitch to import for breeding purposes. Leon was in the process of going into retirement and he had great plans for the future, for his English Setter breeding and his wife Joy’s English Pointer breeding. I couldn’t believe my luck. After having worked in a close and successful companionship with the Danish pointer breeder Jørgen Andersen (kennel Agertoften), I had met a passionate and serious couple down under with whom to continue my enthusiastic work with bird dogs. Unfortunately, the cruel truth was that when Leon and I in partnership purchased Moulin both he and Joy would only be alive for another two years.
Fair to say both Leon and I had a pretty deep insight into high performance English Setter pedigrees around the world. Mine concentrated on Scandinavia and Continental Europe, while Leon’s was on British and American lines as well as Australasia and Scandinavia. I found one exceptional litter in Spain, which I was interested in, and two or three litters in Scandinavia. Moulin’s litter was to be born in Vesterålen in North Norway, a district nearby where I grew up myself and which has produced many good bird dogs. It was to be the last litter sired by the Danish imported stud Kogtveds E Philip. His father was the French top dog Cow Boy des Rives de l’Estrigon, one of the best setters I’ve seen (at the 1991 World Championship in Italy) and the mother was the Danish dual champion Kogtveds B. Penni, who I knew well. Moulin’s mother Lapphaugens E Evita had quite a bit of American blood, which made me hesitate a bit, but Leon convinced me that it was the exact American blood lines worth getting. The litter was born on 13 August 2001 and breeder Kjell A. Myhra had promised me I could have first choice of the bitches. Unfortunately, out of the six pups there were only two bitches. A smaller white/black pup and a larger white/red pup. The funny thing is, my preference with pointers is white/red but with setters white/black. However, from the pictures I was sent I was leaning towards the white/red pup. Norwegian pointer man and close friend of mine, Geir B. Larssen (kennel Barentsvidda), travelled to Vesterålen to have a look at the pups. His choice was also the strong looking white/red bitch pup.
Moulin and her litter sister.
Aged three months in Norway.
Aged ten months on her first NZ hunting trip.
In Early February 2002 Moulin started her long travel from North Norway, via Singapore, to Auckland in New Zealand. I drove from Whangarei to collect her at the airport, accompanied by my then training & field trialling partner Noel Allen (kennel Berryfield). I was anxious to find out how she had tackled the long flights and brief stop in a quarantine transit kennel in Singapore. I can safely say, this is the kind of dog one would want for this kind of trips. She is possibly the dog in the world who has travelled the furtherest. When I let her out of her travel cage she came out with head and tail high and just looked ready to conquer the world. We stopped somewhere nearby from the airport to take her out of the car and feed her. It was the first experience of an English Setter who simply wolfed down her food like a high-power vacuum cleaner. This is the way she has always eaten her food. As with so much in her character, it’s just no nonsense.
My choice of name came from a thought process of her famous grand-sire Cow Boy being French. The fact that the movie Moulin Rouge was released just before she was born and my fondness of the district around Moulin Rouge in Montmartre, Paris. Moulin meaning mill, also illustrated how she would be the foundation of what my kennel produced..
I brought the expensive and precious girl back to Taurikura, Whangarei Heads where she joined her kennel mate Wingfield Warrior. Leon had gifted me Warrior as a pup in 1999. I nick-named him Quinn, which was a setter name with strong traditions in NZ. Moulin I nick-named Line (pronounced Leeneh) which is a female name in Scandinavia, in honour of Jørgen Andersen’s Danish dual champion Lydehøjs Line. I had many great experiences with that pointer in Denmark and also did much of the training and handling of her daughter Agertoften Isabella. My own Line should turn out to have certain resemblances of Agertoften Isabella. A funny thing as a side comment, is that Isabella’s Danish registration number is the same as my phone extension number at work in NZ.
Set on a covey of brown quail above the Ruakaka surf.
A young Line in Quinn’s kennel
Early days, less than 1 year old, set on a hen pheasant.
Set on a pigeon, ten months old.
The one thing which defined Line from start to finish was an incredible hunting passion, which meant a bit of a challenge to shape her how I wanted her to work with me in various terrain. I know there were struggles to tame some of her siblings in the Norwegian mountains. I had some concerns and made it clear to Leon that I would not want to build my breeding on her if I couldn’t trust her – if she was what I would perceive as “dishonest”. However, it soon became clear to me that she was so intensively focused on finding birds but that she responded positively every time I managed to “get into her head when she was in her zone” – which almost seemed like her being in a trance. And when she got it, she got it! For example, it literally took me only 5 minutes to teach her to stay still to flush & shot. It was one single, short training session and it has stayed with her for life. Not bad for such a mentally strong and hunting mad dog!
The main challenge was having her running & ranging on my terms. To only hunt within a certain area and not leave the district.. In her early days hunting in the far north she was not far off covering the ground from coast to coast! The sheer power she displayed in her running could be frightening at times but gradually she settled and understood that we were companions. From a breeding perspective she was the perfect injection for any blood line needing a bit of a lift. For me as a hunter, usually going all day from dawn to dusk with a lot of ground to cover, she was as a big running setter exactly what I desired. I would send her several hundred meters in a direction. If there were birds, she would point and wait until I got there. If there was nothing she would come flying back to me to check where I wanted her to go next. I would often send her up steep cliffs where I thought there would be birds. She would point way above me, often in cover so that I couldn’t see her. She would flush the birds from wherever I called out to her and I would stand below ready to shoot. This is something her daughter Bella also does to perfection for me. The only time I can remember Line to have been sticky was on a newly released pheasant in the snow at Bendigo Station in the INSTINCT video. That was a situation with Quinn (who often was very sticky, but not as insane as that situation at Bendigo). It’s also the one and only time both Quinn & Line were on a non-wild pheasant.
A bit of a story behind this photo: In Line’s second proper hunting season, Craig and I were hunting over her & Quinn in a pine forest in Victoria Valley. We found her hard on point underneath some old pines, looking like an exact replica of her famous American ancestor The Performer. Head high and tail @ 12 o’clock, the only time I’ve seen her point like that. It turned out a young cock pheasant was up in the tree. We only saw it when it took off and I shot it.
Line & Quinn at Bendigo Station, two months before Line turned 2 years old.
It was shortly before Simon Riera and I travelled to the South Island to film INSTINCT that I started getting the big running girl under control. I remember a quite hilarious exercise session I had with her in coastal dunes at Whangarei Heads. I had put my running shoes on, ready to chase her down any time she wouldn’t immediately react to my commands. I had found what I thought was a perfect ground for the task. I had the beach and ocean straight behind me. On the left hand side was a drop down to a stream, which was too wide to jump over. Further up, straight ahead of me was an electric fence which separated the dunes from a farm further up on a hill.
The electric fence went all the way up against the stream, so her only escape route would be on my right hand side, where I would keep tight control and turn her before she got too big. I was on form and ready for anything; birds, rabbits, implementing immediate reaction to my commands… It all started well. She towed a check chord behind her. I was casting and directing her, then as soon as she disappeared behind a little dune I would sprint further along and turn her on my whistle. She was responding well and we had a real good thing going. Just Line and me in some fairly remote coastal dunes. At one stage she did a big cast up towards the stream and just as she was about to turn 4-5 ducks took off flying upstream. We hadn’t encountered any other game and Line did not need another invitation but was after them in a flash. My cries and whistles were totally ignored. She was heading straight towards the electric fence. Fine, I thought. She’ll either get a whack from the fence or she’ll fall down into the stream and I’ll get her. I never knew how she did it. But with exceptional agility she twisted herself around the fence, without falling into the stream, and continued at full speed into the farm on the other side. I was left behind, dumbfounded, while my idiot proof training session disappeared with the flying ducks. The dog was out of sight but now and then I could see a cow jumping in a long line through the rolling hills of the farm. Well, if it was all too easy to put these dogs in order, we’d never have this much fun taking on the challenge..
Line wasn’t trialled much. I lost interest in NZ trials after Leon passed away and Line didn’t really fit into NZ trials. She would take off like a bullet and cover more ground in a single brace than most dogs did in a day (or two)! She started her first trial in Waikato when she was still very young. I mainly started her because Leon was curious to watch her in the field, though she was still interested in swallows and sparrows, which she would chase around in between doing some proper casts. The judge commented on the size of her ranging but said it was only because she was chasing small birds, otherwise she wouldn’t run that big. I thought to myself, you ain’t seen nothing yet.. When I started her next, at Waiuku a few months later, she was past that puppy stage and now running really hard and big. She was by now also immaculate in her bird work. When I hunted her in steep and rough terrain she could be sent in any direction (incl straight upwards), while I positioned myself. If I could neither see or hear her I knew she’d be locked on birds. I would simply call out for her to flush and hope the birds would come past where I had predicted. A lot of cooperation between us developed this way. With her sheer power & passion I got access to birds and terrain anyone else would struggle to hunt.
At her second trials (at Waiuku) the course was through a valley of steep hills. The wind came down through the valley and the hills on each side naturally limited the dogs into the course to hunt. Dogs would at most run half way up the hillsides before turning to come back down. I had entered Line both in the Novice and Open trials. She ran against English pointers in both trials and was judged by an old pointer guy. A considerable crowd had gathered on a hill above the trial grounds, mainly there to see this hard-running Norwegian import. Line didn’t disappoint.
Decent, good-running pointers were left in her wake as she blasted through the course, casting into the wind. She ran so fast up the hills it looked as if she was flying. When she reached the tops she would disappear behind them. I was walking at the bottom of the valley, trying to appear relaxed while I hoped she didn’t take up any rabbits and disappear. The judge would ask me; will she come back? For her in the next second come flying back over the hill top, thundering down, crossing in front of us before powering up the hill on the other side. She was first into birds, didn’t miss any birds and had perfect manners in her four situations that day. Leon was happy after the Novice and totally ecstatic after the Open. She won both trials by some margin. The judge asked if he could buy her. He was ready to convert to setters.
Line only started in another handful of trials (Waikato, Auckland, Northland). The most memorable was in an Auckland Championship, where we walked with a fresh wind in our backs. The terrain was an open, gentle, sunburnt hill towards the coast. Line was on fire and I wasn’t too sure if she’d behave herself. When I cast her off she ran ahead to get under the wind, like she should. However she continued and continued until she was just a white spot in the distance, with the Tasman sea as a backdrop. I was walking next to the judge, biting my lip, while I wondered when the hell she’d come back or whether she was heading for Australia. I remember hearing from Norway how her brother Hero had chased across a mountain lake in a trial. The judge warned me that it didn’t look too good if she didn’t come back soon. He’d have to deduct lots of points regardless but she should be knocked out really.. At this moment she had turned and started the most magnificent casting back against the wind. She covered the entire, huge grounds from side to side. I had never seen anything like it. It was beyond Grande Quete. What an animal! The ranging was breath-taking. I knew I didn’t care about whether she got a prize or not, it was just such a very special moment witnessing this spectacle. It was genius bordering on madness which came to a halt when she hammered into point on a ridge. Time stood still, the whole west coast held its breath, as we walked up towards the statue carved on the ridge. When we reached her I looked at her in awe. 400 years of thoroughbred English setters making a statement on that weathered hill in New Zealand. On command she flushed the bird and sat down as I fired the shot. I put a lead on the dog and handed the judge the revolver. That was one helluva find, he said before heading back down the hill. Line was placed 4th (only the top 3 are awarded prizes).
The interesting thing is that this beautiful diamond within too long started moderating herself and 95% of the time worked totally under my command. It wasn’t due to drilling exercises and obedience training. It simply developed from lots of hunting and shooting plenty of birds for her. She became part of the team, and that is what I wanted from her – having a natural desire to work with me, not by herself.
Line’s main purpose in coming to New Zealand was to be used for breeding, which I’m getting to on the next page. In addition to that, she has been my most reliable hunting dog for over a decade. Not that many people have had the honours of hunting over her. I can count them on two hands. But the one who has been shooting over her nearly as much as myself is Craig Wells, as seen in these photos. A keen deer & pig hunter who became a seasoned bird hunter, shooting over Quinn, Line and Bella. Line more than any of them, which has let him witness her development from pup through to her last season in 2013. Mallards, grey ducks, paradise ducks, brown quail, Californian quail, pheasants, pea fowl, turkeys, rabbits, hares. It has been a mixed bag and some great memories.
Line had her first litter of 8 pups two months before our oldest son Aidan was born. I was busy shipping off pups to their new owners in the days just before, with the exception of Alinghi who was sent to Australia a month or so later. Leon was supposed to have taken Aragorn but because of his newly diagnosed health problems let Skid Hamilton take him instead. Leon came up to Whangarei Heads with Skid to get the pup. Our great quest of conquering the English setter breed in a long -term breeding programme was already starting to crumble.
My plan was to let Line have three litters before both Leon and I continued onto her offsprings, more of Leon’s lines and more imports. Unfortunately Leon never got to work with any of Line’s prodigy and in the end she only had one more litter. Her total of 16 pups produced several excellent individuals, which I was extremely happy with. As a brood bitch she was what I had hoped for. In the field she would have been regarded too much of a handful for most people. She undoubtedly lifted our lines with both mental strength and physique. As a family dog, she was always gentle and kind, never rattled by anything.
Our sons Aidan and Finn have grown up with Line and her daughter Bella (who was born in the second litter, the year after Aidan was born). Aidan in particular is the young hunter in the family. I started taking him with me already from the age of 3. Line was his very special dog.
The picture on the right is from a day’s training with Skid in Waikato. Me with Bella & Line and Skid with Aragorn. This hard-running male did well for several years in NZ trials, which made a group of Australians import semen from him. It was used twice on a Swedish import. At the same time his excellent sister Alinghi has also been bred a couple of times in Australia, These two siblings have contributed greatly there to lift the breed and Alinghi-daughter Runanset Luxury Liner has won their biggest trials including The Australian National Championship. Without going into detail about all her pups, Line of course also gave me Bella, whom probably is the most complete birddog I’ve ever had. Because I had pulled out of trials and further breeding in New Zealand, she is probably the best kept secret this side of the equator…
In late May 2006, while hunting in Puhipuhi forest north of Whangarei, Line was injured when she speared herself on a sharp tree branch. The stick went in from the front, inside her shoulder, and needed urgent medical attention. It was a Saturday and it led to my first meeting with veterinarian Jayne Greening from Hikurangi, who was on call in Whangarei. She is an oustanding surgeon and overall great vet. I changed vets and have since then had no hesitations travelling to Hikurangi for the best possible vet service. Jayne stitched Line up after the accident and also diagnosed that she had early stage cancer in the mammary glands. It was lucky to be discovered early and Jayne performed the surgery to remove the cancer. At that stage I still had plans of a third litter on Line and decided not to have her spayed at the same time. In the end that litter never happened and the following year the cancer was back, which meant we repeated the surgery and this time also spayed her to keep hormones and cancer growth at bay. The surgery procedures were successful and Line continued to function at her very best in the field for years afterwards.
Well known Scottish field trialist, judge and pointer breeder Jon Kean visited New Zealand and had already seen Line in action in INSTINCT. He came for a walk in a forest near Maungatapere to see Line and some other dogs. (Line pictured above in that forest, set on a hen pheasant.) He commented that she was one of the best setters he had seen and that she retrieved like a labrador. Great praise indeed! As described through these pages, she was a real handful at times but I really couldn’t have wished for a better dog to import across the world. If you want a breeding dog, capable of giving the whole breed a serious lift, you need a dog who brings something extra special. Mediocrity won’t do it. When she matured into an adult dog Line was a joy to hunt over. No task or terrain was too big a challenge. During the 2013 season I soon realised that her time was nearing the end. She was struggling to keep up in the terrain and was happy just to walk next to me, while Bella did all the work – though she would still push in and do a few retrieves By mid November her health had further deteriorated and she got her last trip to see vet Jayne Greening at Hikurangi.
Pictured as a young dog with Wingfield Warrior (Quinn), as they watch the bird fly away after a perfect situation.
Aidan with dogs on last day of 2013 season, August 25th.
The old girl retrieving the first bird shot in the 2013 season in the Aupouri forest.
Myself with Line in June 2013, photographed by Aidan.