By RICHARD WOOD
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Families of all ages joined together in Bungay town centre for a Boxing Day tradition.
Hundreds lined the streets under the clear blue skies as they watched the start of the Waveney Harriers’ annual showpiece.
Around 50 horses, together with 30 hounds, congregated at Earsham Street as the riders enjoyed a toast surrounded by well wishers before setting off into the Suffolk countryside.
As they left John Ibbott, Waveney Harriers joint master, thanked the crowds for their support and promised to return next year.
Speaking before the ride, Mr Ibbott said the event had been taking place since the war.
“It is traditional as we have been in Bungay since about 1950,” he said. “People from the Waveney Valley love to come and have a look on Boxing Day.”
In the town centre, four year old Florence Hurst-Williment and her mini Shetland Titch enjoyed a lot of attention as they joined the pack before they left.
Her mum Carly said: “We have always supported hunting and I always hunted as a child. It is part of our heritage and there is a good turnout today.”
The hunt saw the horses follow a trail towards Mettingham and Ilketshall St Andrew. It was laid by two riders who had left half-an-hour before with a rabbit scent.
It has been illegal to use dogs to hunt animals since 2005, but Waveney Harriers secretary Richard Hurst said he was hopeful the Countryside Alliance will help to repeal the ban to allow them to return to their tradition. However he said that the camaraderie and hounds working together was the same with the artificial target.
“We would like the repeal to go ahead, the problem is getting the MPs to vote,” he said.
However blood was spilled this year as when the horses started to leave the town centre one backed into the shop front of William H Brown.
An onlooker, who did not want to be named, said that the horse had “freaked” and reversed onto the pavement, forcing those on the path to move out of the way.
She said: “That is horses, things like that can happen, but it is such a shame.
“When there is an incident people leap on the negative but there are lots of happy people going off today, and this is just one really unfortunate incident.”
A vet was called as the horse required stitches.