My niece and nephew are riding with the West Dulverton Foxhounds. The hounds do not look for foxes, but follow a drag scent that has been left earlier by a man on a quad bike.
I was to meet them in North Devon on the edge of Exmoor. It was an overcast, but dry day. The country was very green with tints of autumn, and some of the blackberries in the hedgerows were still edible.
When I arrived, the hounds and followers had already moved off, but I could hear the horns. Suddenly there were more horses and pink-coated riders than I had expected – the Devon and Somerset Staghounds had crossed into the same terrain. Adding to the excitement, a fox crossed the official scent, and the hounds attempted to divert after him.
Everyone returned from their country ride feeling invigorated.
Despite the Labour Government’s hostility to country pursuits, and its outlawing of hunting traditions that are more a thousand years old, riding to hounds has managed to survive though the fox is no longer pursued.
It is interesting to reflect that the first thing that Hitler did when he was elected was to ban foxhunting in Germany. It has never returned there. Banning hunting seems to be the mark of governments with domineering tendencies. We have every expectation that when a less repressive government returns to Britain, foxhunting will be restored.