Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

A Boxing Day Tradition — The Hunt

I chanced upon the Great Ayton Boxing Day Hunt today. A traditional affair, you know. Had completely slipped my mind.

Christmas, a season steeped in tradition, yet this one leaves a sour taste.

Every Boxing Day, the hunt assembles at the High Green in Great Ayton. Same old spectacle of well-appointed riders, splendid horses, and charming hounds. Granted, I didn’t spot any hounds crossing Aireyholme’s fields, but the day was wearing on. They would have cut a splendid figure on the village green, but do the onlookers truly grasp what could unfold?

The hunts boast that 250,000 folk gather on Boxing Day to revel in the spectacle, though, honestly, has anyone bothered to tally? They argue this as evidence that support for hunting remains robust, insinuating a call for the legalisation of the chase and kill.

Herein lies the paradox. The pursuit today would assuredly be ‘trail’ hunting, but on a weekday, in a more secluded locale …

Reputable polls affirm that over eight in ten, even in rural enclaves like North Yorkshire, favour maintaining the ban on fox hunting1Skinner, Gideon, and Michael Clemence. 2016. ‘Attitudes to Hunting 2016’, Ipsos (Ipsos) <https://www.ipsos.com/en-uk/attitudes-hunting-2016> [accessed 26 December 2023]. Hence, a considerable number of those onlookers today aren’t there for the hunts’ purported cause. Yet, predictably, the hunts will decry any assault on their tradition.

No fault in showcasing beautiful creatures, but when these animals partake in chasing and killing others under the banner of ‘sport,’ something is fundamentally amiss.



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