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Independence Foxhounds Announce The End of Their Hunt Club

On February 10, the Masters of Independence Foxhounds announced that they were closing the hunt club. The three Masters are John Dorrier, Jr., Candida Scott, and David Rowe. Candida Scott, also the huntsman, released the following statement.
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“Thoughts on Foxhunting” Film 50th Anniversary

Melvin PoeMelvin Poe - image from the film, "Thoughts on Foxhunting".

The Friends of Emmanuel Episcopal Church Delaplane and Folkstreams.net will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film "Thoughts on Foxhunting" with a special showing on Saturday, February 4, 2023, at 7 PM at the Middleburg Community Center in Middleburg, Virginia.

The event will premiere a new 4K high-definition scan of the original 16mm film.

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rsz 3virginia field hunter championships photo by liz caller permission via fb

A Season of Field Hunter Competitions

rsz 3virginia field hunter championships photo by liz caller permission via fbVirginia Field Hunter Championships. Photo by Liz Caller.

At the start of every hunt season, several field hunter competitions showcase the skills of hunt members and their mounts. The nature of our sport doesn’t usually lend itself easily to competition, so each venue has come up with creative ways to quantify the skills needed to ride to hounds. Some competitions lean more towards jumping skills in an arena, while others try to keep as close to the hunt field as possible. These competitions can be a fun way for members to tune up their mounts for the hunt season. A few of the unique tasks required from competitors during individual rounds are opening and closing a gate while mounted, dropping a rail while mounted, halting from a hand gallop, dismounting and remounting from a stone wall, blowing a horn, and cracking a whip to name a few. Usually, only hunt members in good standing with their hunt clubs riding horses that are considered to have been fairly hunted are allowed to compete.

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A Dorset Huntsman Convicted of Illegal Hunting

rsz tvh hw 158kPhoto by Gretchen Pelham

Mark Pearson, Joint Master and Huntsman for the South Dorset Hunt, was found guilty this October of illegal hunting. A video of Pearson was taped by hunt saboteurs that allegedly showed him “encouraging” the pack to kill a fox, violating the Hunting Act 2004. The incident occurred last December 2021 in Dorset, located in southwest England.

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Verdict of Guilt Is Reversed

blurry hunt photo

Last year, a senior UK foxhunter and board member of the British MFHA, Mark Hankinson, was found guilty in Westminster Magistrates' Court of contravening the despised Hunting Act of 2004. He was also ordered to pay the court £3,500 in fine and fee. The deputy chief Magistrate concluded that he was "clearly encouraging the mirage of trail laying to act as cover for old-fashioned illegal hunting."

The case involved the question of whether or not Hankinson, in a webinar seen by about one hundred hunt leaders, promoted ways for hunts to covertly hunt illegally by making it appear they were trail hunting.

This year, a court heard his appeal and considered whether Hankinson's words were intentionally encouraging an offense. The court decided to the contrary, reversed the original verdict, and Hankinson was adjudged not guilty.

Hankinson explained he was referring to the practice of laying dummy trails to fool saboteurs.

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Britain’s National Trust Members to Vote on Draghunt Ban

In late October, more than five million members of Britain’s National Trust will be asked to vote on whether or not trail-hunting should be banned on trust-owned land. Seems ironic considering that so many of the donors of the properties and lands now held by the trust were country sportsmen, sportswomen, and foxhunters. A similar vote was taken just five years ago. Trail hunting prevailed by just one percent of the very small percentage of members who voted. To achieve that result, the board used discretionary proxy votes to defeat the proposal. At the same time, however, the board banned the continued use of animal-based scents like fox urine. The issue is even more divisive today. “Trail-hunting’ is a cover for foxhunting,” opponents claim. The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) plans a protest outside October’s Annual General Meeting. Draghunters insist that trail-hunting does not involve animal cruelty. Notwithstanding the results of the 2017 vote, last year the National Trust joined a group of other large landowners in Britain who claimed that trail hunt organizers planned to kill foxes. The trust joined those landowners in suspending trail-hunting. If the anti-hunt campaigners win in October, the suspension will become permanent. “We’ve been listening carefully to both sides of a highly polarized and passionate debate,” the trust said, as reported by Jane Dalton in The Independent. Posted September 6, 2021
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Quorn Members Found Not Guilty

hugo mynellHugo Mynell of Quorn Hall, Leicestershire, and considered the Father of Modern Foxhunting, was Master of The Quorn from 1753 to 1800.

Quorn huntsman John Finnegan and his whipper-in at the time, Rhys Matcham, accused of hunting wild mammals with dogs in contravention of England’s Hunting Act of 2004, were cleared of all charges in Leicestershire Magistrates’ Court on August 24, 2021.

The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) provided filmed evidence to the court from which prosecutors claimed the footage showed "a proper fox hunt going back to the olden days." The incident is alleged to have occurred on February 24, 2020. Finnegan and Matcham denied the charges and entered not guilty pleas in March 2021.

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Hunt in Northern Ireland Charged In Court

The Iveagh Hunt Club in County Down—the south-easternmost county in Northern Ireland—has been charged along with several individuals at Lisburn Magistrates Court. The defendants are charged with two counts: allowing foxhounds to kill a cat and to attack a man. These charges are not made under England’s Hunting Act of 2004. That act does not apply in Northern Ireland. Charges were filed on November 25, 2020. The case will be heard on August 25, 2021, all as reported in the Irish News of July 21, 2021. Posted July 21, 2021
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MFHA Signs Up EQ Media for Communications

The Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America (MFHA) has engaged EQ Media to manage and execute the association’s communications. Based in Wellington, Florida, EQ Media describes itself as a “full service media agency with an equestrian focus.” “After completing the most recent strategic planning session, the board recognized even more fully the importance of committing to a broader, more comprehensive communications strategy,” said MFHA President Leslie Rhett Crosby (MFH of the Mooreland Hunt in Alabama). “EQ Media is the perfect partner to guide and move MFHA into the future.” EQ Media will promote MFHA’s activities, trumpet the association’s impressive but little-known conservation efforts, and its contributions to canine health research through its decade-long research project on tick-borne illnesses at the University of Iowa. Plans are also underway for a rebranding process, a new website, a retooled Covertside magazine, new affiliations and partnerships, and more robust communications. “Our team is ready to dig in and tell the MFHA story,” said Carrie Wirth, the marketing and communications veteran who founded EQ Media in 2016. The MFHA, established in 1907, is the governing body of organized mounted foxhunting in the U.S. and Canada. It has established requirements for hunt clubs and standards of sportsmanship necessary for registration and recognition under its jurisdiction. And it remains responsible for auditing member hunts’ adherence to the standards. The MFHA registers the hunting territories for all member hunts. In the event of conflict between hunts, the association attempts to provide mediation through its regional directors. One of the MFHA’s most vital responsibilities is the meticulous registration of all foxhounds in all member hunts and publication of a stud book and foxhound pedigrees—an absolute requirement for responsible maintenance and improvement of the breed. The not-for-profit MFHA maintains two foundations. Overall is the MFHA Foundation, providing financial support for several important programs as well as funds for the Hunt Staff Benefit Foundation. The MFHA Foundation supports the MFHA’s Professional Development Program, promotes conservation of open space and habitat, educates the public about foxhunting, and partners with the University of Iowa in canine tick-born disease research by providing data for statistical analysis. The Hunt Staff Benefit Foundation provides both short- and long-term monetary assistance to retired or injured professional huntsmen in need. Posted February 23, 2021
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Data Penetration: Russia, China, Now Hunt Sabs

High tech has been of immense benefit to foxhunters. With increased road traffic in every hunting country, staff equipped with two-way radios have been a boon to hound safety. GPS collars accurately locate hounds and often rescue those hung up in fences or otherwise disabled. Computers create foxhound pedigrees in microseconds, once a laborious pen-and-paper task. And then there’s the dark side. Hunt saboteurs across England are engaged in widespread breaching of private data on the web to target and endanger foxhunters by publicizing names, addresses, and contact data. According to the UK’s Daily Telegraph, police have contacted hundreds of members and supporters of the New Forest hunt in Hampshire to encourage them to improve the security of their individual data. Home addresses and contact details have been published online by anti-hunting groups who warn of further attacks. The Action Fraud Police are investigating data breaches of the Cottesmore hunt in the Shires. The Mendip Farmers hunt in Somerset has been breached as well. The police have sent letters urging hunts to review their online security, change passwords, and review privacy settings on all online accounts. Animal Rights groups admit to be planning prolonged attacks to publicize private data of foxhunters and their supporters. These actions surely pave the way to ultimately breach the online data of other targets in the sights of animal rights activists in addition to foxhunters: anglers, shooters, racing enthusiasts…eventually, even farmers. Posted January 28, 2021
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