As part of the scaled-down Boxing Day hunts, which were held under Covid restrictions for the 2nd year in a row, riders and hounds took off all over the country.
Even though celebrations had been slowed by the pandemic, packs created a beautiful scene as they tore through fields all across Britain.
Although trail and drag hunting continued, there were a limited number of participants and they did not receive the popular salutes at village greens and villages.
Many were concerned about what missing the meet would mean for the community. Pubs and other businesses in the area are making huge profits from the large numbers of people who attend.
However, there are still those who slander the tradition British sport. Some activists also criticize its use on public land.
As they tore across fields throughout the UK, hunters and packs created a beautiful scene – even though celebrations were slowed down by the pandemic. Today’s Suffolk and Essex Hunt
Although trail and drag hunting were successful, there was a limited number of participants and they did not receive the traditional send-offs at village greens. Photo: Today’s Essex and Suffolk Hunt
Boxing Day hunters met in England, Scotland, and Wales Monday morning. This is because they don’t usually go out on Sundays as it is a day off.
There are approximately 250 packs in the UK. The guidelines were strict in England and Wales. Only 50 people can attend the former.
The master hunter had to balance disappointing thousands who come to hunt with the danger of Covid super-strain Omicron.
Ralph Richardson was joint-master huntsman and joint-master of Middleton Hunt. He is based in Yorkshire and hosted two meetings in Driffield, and Malton. Richardson said that the meets were well attended again by people who consider it a tradition in their annual celebrations. We also brought the dogs to visit the local care home, where they made smiles on the faces of residents.
“We are happy to see that our meet attendees were able to support local shops and pubs which have, as many local businesses, had a tough year.”
Mary Perry was joint-master for the Cotley Hunt and advised people to take preventative measures ahead of their meet in Chard.
“We recommended that anyone gathering on foot wear masks in restricted spaces and keep to a distance when possible.”
All those who were interested in riding with the hounds were required to pass lateral flow tests. They are not permitted to participate if their results come back negative or they feel otherwise.
Any eager supporters who showed up at the door were also asked to wear face covers if they found themselves inside.
Many were concerned about what the skip would mean for the community. Local pubs, as well as other businesses in the area, are taking advantage of large numbers. Today’s Essex and Suffolk Hunt
Boxing Day Hunts were held in England, Scotland, Wales and Wales on Monday morning. They are not usually out Sundays due to it being a day for rest. Photo: Today’s Essex and Suffolk Hunt
Polly Portwin is the Director of the Campaign for Hunting at the Countryside Alliance. She stated that the festival meets were hugely popular with both hunters and their communities. The event became a family tradition.
“While some meets were smaller in scale due to restrictions this year, they still gave a huge boost both economically and socially across the country, just as trail hunting does throughout the season.
“Despite being in operation for 16 years, the popularity of this annual spectacle is not waning. It allows hunts to host people that might otherwise only be able to see one hunt each year.
She said, “We hope next year that meets can return in full glory and see crowds reach the hundreds of thousands.”
These packs are about 250 and were made in accordance with strict guidelines by the government in England, Wales, and the United States. All but 50 of the participants in Wales can attend. Photo: Today’s Essex and Suffolk Hunt
Separate restrictions were placed on hunts in Scotland, Wales and other parts of Britain that restricted the attendance at outside events.
Wales has a limit of 50 people outside gatherings so the majority hunts cancelled, and those who went ahead saw fewer riders.
The Curre & Llangibby Hunt in Wales was among those hunts forced to cancel their usual public meet in Devauden Green, Monmouthshire, due to the change in recent Covid restrictions.
Juliette Evans is joint-master of hunt.
In Scotland, however, the number of outside events is limited to 500. Even though there are just eight registered hunts, the number of people attending festive meets could reach thousands.
Tim Allen, master and huntsman for the Duke of Buccleuch’s Hunt, met near Kelso and said that ‘with the new changes to outdoor events in Scotland yesterday we’ve had no choice but to reduce the attendance to 500 persons which is significantly smaller than usual. However, we are delighted to have been able to continue and hope these new measures can help slow down the spread of this virus.
17 years after the Hunting Act was passed, there are still activists trying to ban all forms of hunting.
League Against Cruel Sports issued another plea to end the distribution of packs on public land by Boxing Day, a campaign charity.
Chris Luffingham is the director of external affairs for the LACS. He stated: “We know and it was proven in court that hunters use trail hunting as an excuse to continue their hunts like they have always done.”
“Their astonishing arrogance in thinking that the rules simply do not apply to them cannot possibly be tolerated anymore by the general population, who are now very proficient at seeing through half truths.
“Enough is enough. It has been stated that certain departments of government are responsible for their land management. We therefore call on the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, to cease issuing trail hunting permits on behalf of Ministry of Defence.
Forestry England should also be asked to suspend their licences. This is in line with the National Trust, Natural Resources Wales, and other local councils that have already seen the truth and understood trail hunting as old-fashioned, illegal hunting.
He said, “It is time for all landowners to ban trail hunting on their property and that the government enforces the Hunting Act so its loopholes are closed.”
Some hunters headed out to the Boxing Day hunts yesterday, despite Sunday being traditionally a day for rest.
The South Downs Bloodhounds’ members wear the new mustard jacket uniform in preparation for their annual Boxing Day trail hunt near Petersfield.
Many supporters gathered in scarves and hats in support of the annual event that took place at various venues across the country. Pictured: Hounds and horses of the Grove and Rufford Hunt meet at the King William Inn, Scaftworth, Nottinghamshire, yesterday
The hound meets one of the 80 crowd members who was wearing a camo jacket to observe the hunt in Scaftworth (not pictured).
For the annual Petersfield event, huge crowds gather yesterday in Petersfield wearing woolly hats or jackets.
Children were seen interacting with the horses and riding the hounds before the tradition hunt began.
Many supporters gathered in their scarves and hats for the annual event that took place at various venues across the country.
The annual event was attended by members from The South Downs Bloodhounds, who attracted a crowd of spectators to Petersfield.
Riders on horseback, dressed in new mustard coat uniforms with Santa hats and festive mice pie caps, made their way through town as supporters watched.
South Downs Bloodhounds were formed in 2004. They begin their season at the end of August. People are able to either follow the hunt on the roads or their cars.
Just days ago, the group met in fog for a hunt at Cranborne Manor East Dorset.
The group conducted hunts in the vicinity of Whitewool Farm, East Meon, and Milton Hill Farm, Pewsey.
Before yesterday’s Boxing Day hunt, riders on horseback wore their mustard jackets to the Boxing Day trail hunt in Petersfield.
Yesterday morning, riders wore festive hats to participate in the South Downs Bloodhounds Boxing Day Trail Hunt
South Downs Bloodhounds typically begin active hunting around August, with supporters able to walk alongside them.
Yesterday, two riders sat on horses while they participated in the South Downs Bloodhounds Boxing Day Trail Hunt.
Many people start to arrive to see the Boxing Day Trail Hunt in Hampshire, despite the freezing and rainy weather.
A horseback rider prepares for The South Downs Bloodhounds Boxing Day trail hunting in Petersfield