Hundreds of hunt meets called off


The Heythrop hunt parades through Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire

Hundreds of post-Christmas hunts across the country were called off because of freezing weather conditions.

More than 300 meets were planned but had to be cancelled or postponed, and will have to wait for the forecast thaw in the bad weather before they can head out again.

Jill Grieve, from the Countryside Alliance, said: “More than 250 went to meet but I think most of them met and just went home again.

“If you think about it, you’ve got horses with metal shoes on and they’re just going to go skating about on the ice in these conditions. Some people actually went out on foot with their hounds and some actually went out on quad bikes, but they won’t have been out for long.”

In Northumberland, hundreds of people braved sleet and snow to show their support for the Tynedale Hunt but only the most experienced riders took part. Hounds and riders mingled with the crowds gathered at the market place in Corbridge for the traditional meet.

Frozen snow and ice up to a foot thick on roads surrounding the village meant that people new to the sport had to be sidelined.

Hunt supporters were due to be out in their droves for the annual Boxing Day meet, which was scheduled for Monday as hunting does not take place on Sundays.

Ms Grieve said hunting was still gaining popularity despite the hunting act, as the number of people lending their support was on the rise. She also said people in favour of the hunt were hoping David Cameron would honour his pledge to repeal the ban on hunting foxes, despite a recent decision by ministers to continue the ban into next year.

She said: “When the coalition reached an agreement around the act there was a promise to go and revisit.

“It’s an act of trust almost with us that they do just that and we hope they do. We need some clarification on this farcical situation we find ourselves in.”

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