Robin Muir, MFH Joint Master, talks to the Observer about the Boxing Day Chiddingfold, Leconfield and
Cowdray Hunt, and what he thinks the future may hold for hunting.
BOXING Day is important to us because it takes place near Petworth House which is the hunt’s spiritual home.
In fact, it is its actual home too, as the hounds are kennelled within Petworth Park and that’s where we met.
We feel it’s important to remind people that despite the ban on hunting foxes, we are thriving by hunting within the law, which we will continue to do while we wait for a change in that law.
The hunt has been a part of the Sussex community for centuries and we were touched that so many agree.
Nearly 1,000 people turned up to send us off and 87 were out mounted.
This is the same as last season, which bearing in mind flooded yards, impassable roads, stranded horses and no power, is pretty amazing.
We left the park and trailed through to Holland Wood, emerging at 1.30pm for half-time refreshments at the Stag Inn, at Balls Cross, where there seemed to be even more supporters out.
We went back in, finishing at around 3.30pm and the day was absolutely terrific, exhausting and hounds went well on the trails.
It was surprisingly good underfoot too and there were no accidents, thank goodness.
On the future of hunting. This is the eighth Boxing Day meet after the ban and we still don’t really know where we stand.
As many would have seen, support here is on the increase, the law is a mess and successful prosecutions have been minimal.
We are certainly not going away.
It would be foolish of us to think we are top of prime minister’s agenda but the fact remains that once vocally committed to repeal of the Hunting Act, he is now oddly silent.
His wife’s stepfather is head of Vote OK, the pressure group which at the last election poured into marginal seats, foot soldiers in their droves from hunts across the country to campaign for pro-repeal candidates (mainly Conservative).
It was a success but many feel unsure about doing it again.
Maybe it was tricky across the Boxing Day lunch table, but I hope they don’t avoid talking about it, David Cameron and his in-laws.
There is still time for some well chosen words, but it’s fast running out.