Sunday, 18 October 2009

Fox and Hound

What a fab weekend I've hand. I was lucky enough to follow the Llangeinor Hunt on one of their taster days. Which was just brilliant. We met on a crisp morning at Ogmore Junction in Blackmill, Bridgend. Horse box after horse box, hound after hound. I helped hand out mugs of soup and tumblers of whiskey before the hunt set off over the hills. As I don't own a horse, a kind gentleman, who went by the name of Derek, bustled me into his landrover and we followed the hunt trail in the car. Accompanied by my partner in rural crime, Becky Whitefoot, we had an adventure over the Ogmore mountains.

The sound of the horns, the sight of tweed and the rustle of a packet of polos in the glove compartment...what more could you want? Well maybe my thoughts on fox hunting? Now there's a tricky one...

Prior to this glorious morning of Welsh Hunting I actually to went to a social evening set up by the Llangeinor Hunt. The venue for the evening, a working mens club, the preferred drink, diet coke in a can and the most popular choice of food to accompany the event, a packet of crisps. A far cry from the stereotypical hunt gathering shown in the media. You were more likely to see a piece of toffee stuck to the table than a toff.

The purpose of the evening was to inform and educate and it certainly delivered on both accounts. The Chairman William Pugh and Hunt Master Brian Hughes led the evening explaining that we may see a fox on the hunt but in no way were we hunting it...
"if we see a fox we will stop and restart the trail"

Since the ban on fox hunting came into effect in 2005, after the Hunting Act 2004, hunting communities have had to adapt to the new laws. Even with the ban in place the core themes of hunting are still in tact. There is a great sense of community and purpose within the group, an overwhelming force of tradition and an eagerness for young and old to be involved. I even learned how to tie a hunting tie, otherwise known as a stock!

To be honest after my social interaction with everyone on the Llangeinor Hunt, I feel so much more informed about the whole fox hunting debate. An active member of the Llangeinor Hunt Mair Hughes was ready to answer any questions I had and was keen for people to understand more about what actually goes on on a hunt. And when asked why she thought people were against hunting the answer seemed clear "it's a class issue". That seems to be Britian all over doesn't it? A class misunderstanding.

I'm not going to pitch one way or the other on this debate but I do agree with Mair when she told me that the Fox Hunting issues are a like a drop in the ocean. So much surrounds the Fox Hunting debate that you really do dig up more than you bargained for.

What I have taken from this was a brilliant day out with a lot of lovely people. I came away from the hunt with my belly full of stew, my head full of horses and my boots covered in mud. But the most important thing, I had a smile on my face.

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