THE LAST DAY OF HUNTING: The Defiant Beaufort Prays for a Tory Government to Ride to the Rescue
Brown, Jonathan, The Independent (London, England)
THERE WAS bitterness, there was anger and, deep down at the Beaufort Hunt as 200 riders and hundreds of foot-followers gathered in a muddy field near Malmesbury, there was a mood of defiance.
Perhaps it stems from the fact that foxes have been chased and killed by packs of hounds in this part of the world for more than three centuries; it is a local custom spanning the lives of half a dozen dukes of Beaufort, one of the family names most closely associated with hunting. Perhaps it is because the Beaufort has been joined in the recent past by probably the next two Kings - Charles and William - the future Princess Consort, Camilla, and the Princess Royal.
But, with just a few hours left to hunt under their centuries- old rules of engagement yesterday, Parliament's passing of the Hunting Act 150 miles to the east in London, was being viewed merely as an unwelcome interruption to an unbreakable local tradition.
"We are not going away. We will keep these hounds going, we will keep this community going and in the end we will come back and meet again when hunting is legal," boomed the joint master, Captain Ian Farquhar, from his white mount.
He had taken to the saddle despite a niggling hamstring injury and was greeted for his efforts with loud cheers from hunt supporters as they drank stirrup cups of port and nibbled sausage rolls and cake at the rendezvous of Gardners Farm in Hullavington.
They had all come out for the big day. Some had not taken to the saddle for 30 years; others, such as 11-year-old Charlotte Plummer on Spice and her cousin Natalie, 9, on McDuff, were trying it out for the first time.
Luckily for them, the Beaufort plans to continue to enjoy the sport without the blood. Up to four times a week, huntsmen and women will don the unique blue and buff coats for a ride in their country - an immense parcel of land that, until the advent of the M4 and post- war urban sprawl, stretched from the Cotswolds to Bath. The hounds, after 200 years being bred to kill foxes, will not be retrained; they will instead chase a special scent designed to recreate the smell of their quarry.
Enforcing the ban will be difficult - keeping track of the hounds is hard enough for skilled horse riders. The only police officer visible yesterday would have had to be …
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Publication information: Article title: THE LAST DAY OF HUNTING: The Defiant Beaufort Prays for a Tory Government to Ride to the Rescue. Contributors: Brown, Jonathan - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: February 18, 2005. Page number: 6. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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