Boxing Day Hunts still split opinion

From The Hereford Times - click here....!

CROWDS are gathering in towns across the county to cheer on Herefordshire's huntsmen on one of the most important dates in the hunt calendar.

Ledbury Hunt is expected to attract the most people to its Boxing Day meet with thousands poised to fill the town's High Street.

The Golden Valley Hunt, under the joint mastership of Mr A Hill and Mr M Phillips, will also carry on a decades long tradition of meeting below the Hay-on-Wye Clock Tower.

Meanwhile, in Leominster's Corn Square, crowds will join the North Herefordshire Hunt, with punch, mince pies, and a raffle with prizes including a barrow of bottles provided by the Rankin Club.

Anna Ernsting, Joint Master of the Ross Harriers, who for the eighth year meet at the Market Place in Ross, said: "There are over 250 registered hunts in England and Wales.

"It is so important that people get to see the horses and hounds in their local town centres to show that in spite of the 2004 Hunting Act, support within the law is still strong, with more than a quarter of a million people attending Boxing Day meets."

However, not all are in accordance and the issue remains a deeply divisive one.

And in Bromyard, people were given the chance to get out into the countryside free of the horses and hounds.

Karen Rock has organised the Boxing Day festive family ramble event with the Bromyard Downs Common Association – and hopes it can become a tradition of its own.

She said: "We've had several complaints regarding the hunts who have been in the habit of coming across the Downs, despite very specific bylaws banning hunting of any description.

"People feel intimidated, they've lost poultry to the hounds, and there aren't many alternatives other than shopping if you're not a fan of bloodsports, so I thought I'd organise and alternative activity to the meet.

"Something to get children interested in what's on their doorstep, a bit of lighthearted fun that everyone can get involved in.

"Hopefully, it will become an annual tradition."

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