Letter: Hunt ban tramples on a thousand years of English tradition

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Sir: Thank you for publishing the letter from David Dear ("Hunt celebrates life", 25 January). He is absolutely right.

Early in December, I had the opportunity to go out with the Fernie of Leicestershire. On that day, I rode over some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen, the ancestral home of my mother's family. I had hired a wonderful horse, a mare of such quality and excellent training that I felt unworthy of her. It was so utterly moving to hunt in the country that I consider my second home, I found myself near tears.

I've never seen ordinary people ride with such courage and skill. The hunt followers, both on foot and on horseback, were hugely welcoming and friendly. Even the threat of an impending ban on an activity so central to their livelihood did not take the smiles from their faces.

Many who are in favour of the UK hunting ban will argue that foxhunting dates back only about 300 years. The truth is that your people have been hunting with hounds across the centuries. Your foxhounds are descended from animals brought during the Norman Conquest. Your hunters have been bred from crosses of ancient native British stock with the thoroughbred. The latter is a gorgeous creature, a work of art, created by the English. The hedgerows over which the hunt rides date back to Saxon times.

The right to hunt is not a priviege held by the wealthy elite. It's part of who you are as Britons; please preserve it. The ban is a smack in the face to the people who built the country, fought and died for it, and for five hundred years made it the richest and most influential nation in the world.

The hunting ban is very obviously motivated by class jealousy and cultural self-hatred disguised as compassion. It's a revenge law written by people who harbour a horror of the man on horseback.

On 19 February, I will think of the hunt staffs, followers and supporters, and be cheering for them. I urge them to fight honourably and hard in the war against the loss of their freedom. And I fully expect to return to England to hunt foxes again.

MEREDITH STRANGES

Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

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