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A Huntsman’s Wife Asks, Do I have a Future?

We are delighted to be able to publish this guest editorial. It  sums up the feelings of many who make our countryside the great resource that it is, and yet they and their families are at great risk of being cast aside in the pursuit of someone else’s poorly thought out politically driven agenda.
Not all my friends hunt, or share my passion for hounds. That is fine …
On Thursday many of us face  much we hold dear being used as a political pawn yet again. The following sums up what it might mean to those of us at the heart of things.
A change to a government that has banning trail hunting on its manifesto is a direct threat to my family’s way of life. It is certainly making us feel very apprehensive of the future with much discussion to what might, could, or will happen. I personally have been lucky enough to grow up and work in our wonderful countryside. Having the opportunity to see parts of the country a lot of people would only dream of, all on horseback while trail hunting.
Trail hunting brings a sense of community and belonging to all involved, not only in the season but out of season, with social occasions and functions that bring people who are often isolated together. Many interwoven equine industries depend on business from trail hunting some of which include tailors, farriers, saddlers and feed merchants. A huge knock on effect could be felt in point-to-point racing , team chasing, fun rides and people’s annual pilgrimage to see hounds on Boxing Day.

That leads me on to the hounds, the most wonderful, noble and intelligent animals, if trail hunting is no more what happens to the thousands of hounds? There isn’t enough space on my sofa for them all.

Not that I will have a sofa because we will be homeless and my husband jobless.

I hope that my children get to experience the joy of a crisp autumn morning, with the sun slowly rising , the anticipation and excitement as you unload your horse, hounds milling around ready for the off, the camaraderie and friendship between people. The discipline and devotion of preparing your horse and kit before and after a day, the manners and etiquette learned from your elders.

We have been a direct target of our opposition as have many other hunt kennels. We’ve had a lorry sabotaged, its brakes tampered with, our car stolen and burnt out, a bitch hound who had recently whelped poisoned, so we had to hand rear her pups. We’ve been followed whilst going about day to day business, cars outside our house watching our every move at all hours of day and night by people in balaclavas, slanderous comments and untruths on social media. Things that would not be acceptable in any other walk of life. So why do we continue and fight for trail hunting? Because there are no words to describe the feeling of watching hounds figuring out and speaking on a complicated trail, leading you over challenging country and the blood pumping excitement of jumping whatever is in front of you. I have been lucky enough to lay trails, and trying to outsmart huntsman and hounds. Replicating the wily fox is on par with following hounds. Seeing them hunt the line you have lain where you may have doubled back, or lifted the trail to really test their noses and the skill of the huntsman is fascinating and exhilarating.

The service trail hunting offers to the local farming and equestrian community through fallen stock services and countryside management is unseen but hugely important. That phone call often on a Sunday evening from a member of the public, distressed after finding their beloved horse down in the field or after suffering a catastrophic injury, knowing that an end to their suffering is quick humane and sensitively dealt with by professional hunt staff up and down the country.
It’s not just as simple as ‘banning trail hunting.’ It is the deliberate eradication of a whole way of life. A lot of people will never understand our way of life, nor want to be part of it and that’s OK too – each to their own. We understand it, we live it, breathe it and we love our hounds, horses and countryside.
To know that Hunt Kennels may fall silent and hounds never sing in them again, I for one cannot bear the thought.
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