Author: Ágnes Ordasi
TRADITIONALIST, YET OUTRAGEOUS.
ELEGANT, YET FEROCIOUS.
GLORIOUS, YET RUTHLESS
This duality characterises the attitude
of the British people towards the
traditional foxhunting, which is an
original emblem of the island state.
Foggy mornings, hunting-horn sound,
hounds’ yipping, throbbing of hooves.
The foxhunting is that specifi c type of hunting
where the hounds, the horses, the aligned
work of the hunters and the beaters is
needed for the success.
The beginning of the traditions of foxhunting
goes back to the 1500’s Northfolk, where
the local farmers organised hauntings with
hounds because of the over proliferated population
of foxes. However, the fi rst houndpacks
who were specialised for foxhunting
were recorded in the 1600’s. Many species
of dogs were used as a part of the packs like
Beagles, Basset Hounds, French Hounds
and Harriers, but every pack was consisted
of the same species. Since the beginning,
different species of dogs are spent to track a
fox, a deer, an otter, or a rabbit.
The foxhunting occasions are ensured
a perfect opportunity to test the young horses,
as they had to prove their abilities on
and off the beaten track of ground. An unspoken
rule stated that every four years old
horse should have had been a part of a hunting.
Later, because of the appearance of the
sport horses, which are the most valuable
types, the mentioned rule toned down.
The hunting season is between November
and April. Foxes can be hunted all year
long, but because of their valuable fur they
are hunted during winter. The chase is
done on horseback with a help of a pack of
hounds. In one pack there are at least 20-30
dogs which are led by a huntsman. This role
is for the Master or the team’s elder. There
is another master position, the Masters
of foxhounds were originally the owners of
the packs of hounds used for fox hunting
and the employers of hunt servants. Now
they are more often the members of fox
hunts with control of the hunt. The Master
Huntsman’s work is helped by servants, outriding
all the other riders.
The stablemen are also part of the team, as they
provide the horses for the members and help
the work of the Master.
The hunt begins with a morning gathering
where the members can get to know each other,
the dogs and the Master. The night before,
the routed-out holes’ entrances are closed up,
so during the hunt, they can be hunt out again.
The hounds, as they hear the command, start
looking for the fox holes. When they fi nd the
prey, they are yipping loudly.
After this ritual, the hunt begins as the occasion’s
main attraction. The brought down
prey’s head, tail and paws are regarded to the
Master of Foxhounds, but as a mark of honour,
the Master can give them to a member.
The proper foxhunting attire is diversifi –
ed by gender, position and age, and has an
etiquette, but the noble families can wear
more colourful uniforms in colours of green,
yellow or grey.
Although hunters continuously renew the
knowledge about this noble tradition and
take it on, they have numerous opposers.
In the beginning of the 2000’s hunting with
hounds was a main issue in the United Kingdom’s
internal affairs. The topic was in the
centre of attention. The Backbenchers voted
in uniformity by the complete proscription,
whilst the Frontbenchers voted for keeping
the tradition alive. The Labour Party fought
against it too, as they stated that hunting with
hounds is a barbarous and ruthless activity,
not to mention it goes against the rights of
animal wellbeing. The major issues with the
topic are that about ten thousand people
would have lost their jobs if the sport had
been forbidden, furthermore with the potential
disappearance of the chase, a great
cultural and social heritage would have been
lost and cause a signifi cant increase in the opposition
between countryside and city.
The period at the end of the sentence was
given in 2005 when the few hundred years
old traditional form of the chase was banned.
The act let the tradition keepers continue the
hunting, but they are to follow the points of
the animal rights.
The argument set the public opinion into two
sides too; everyone can decide which side
they want to stand by, as a subjective opinion,
however many agrees on the fact that the tradition
should be carried along in some way,
as it is a glorious heritage of the country.