Tally ho to keeping up the hunt tradition
11:27am Friday 27th December 2013 in News
HUNDREDS of spectators gathered to watch this year’s traditional Boxing Day Holcombe Hunt at Rivington Hall Barn.
Families braved the cold and trekked up to the barn where 70 horses and their riders assembled to circle the field before starting their two-and-a-half hour ride across the countryside.
The Holcombe Hunt, which is a harriers pack and hunted hares, is one of the oldest in the country and dates back to 1086.
The hunt’s hounds are believed to be direct descendents of the Blue Gascoignes, who were brought across the Channel by the Normans.
In 2004 the Hunting Act banned hunting foxes and hare with a pack of hounds so they now follow a scent.
Master Sue Simmons, aged 48, has been hunting for 20 years and is proud to be a part of one of the oldest hunts in Britain.
She said: “Today we still have the lineage from the blue mottled Chien de Gascoignes family Normandy hounds.
“I'm an equestrian and compete in a variety of competitions such as show jumping.
“I’ve been hunting for 20 years now so I have seen the hunt act come into place, which the hounds have adapted to.”
Louise Blundell, aged 27, works at Smithills Open Farm and this was her fifth hunt. She said: "I have been riding since I was three years old and this is my fifth season hunting. I always wanted to do it so I bit the bullet and now I come every year.
“It won’t be a long day because this is the first time a lot of the horses have come out for a while so they won’t be as fit. It will be more of a taster."
Spectators Margaret and Albert McEwan, from Middle Hulton, have been watching the hunt since the 1980s with their children.
Mrs McEwan, aged 72, said: “We used to come up each year without fail in the 1980s.
“It was a meeting place where everybody would come together and have a day out. It’s also a good way to walk off the Christmas dinner.”
Last year a 64-year-old rider suffered a head injury when one of the horses knocked her over and stepped on her head, leading to a rescue by the air ambulance.
Edward Booth, aged 19, said this may have put some riders off.
“Last year there were 88 hunters but this year I think it’s closer to 70. Unfortunately I think some may have been put off after last year when a rider fell and an air ambulance had to be called to rescue her,” he said.
The Countryside Alliance said more than 250,000 people joined in nationally with this year’s traditional Boxing Day hunts.
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