Scent trail hunt excites crowds as traditional Boxing Day meet goes ahead despite poor weather
The annual Boxing Day meet by the Suffolk Hunt went ahead this year despite bad weather, with crowds of people turning up to watch.
Despite still being known as a hunt, no animals were hunted or harmed during the event, which began at Hawstead Lodge Farm, south of Bury St Edmunds.
The hounds set off on the command of Huntsman Sean Huchinson at 11am to follow a scent trail which had been laid down prior to the event.
Spectators can either follow on foot or watch from a distance along nearby roads as the horses and hounds race across the fields.
While the hunting season begins in October, Boxing Day hunts have been a tradition for hundreds of years.
These days, however, hunts say they are family-friendly events where horses, their riders and the pack of hounds spend an hour or two out in the countryside.
Hunts became increasingly divisive when foxes were hunted down and killed, but with that practice having been illegal since 2004, opinion is changing.
This Boxing Day tradition, which was once about finding and killing an animal is now centred on animals and people enjoying themselves.
The hounds that are used in hunts have been bred for hunting and can easily follow a scent, even in rain or snow.
Gary Tate, joint secretary of Suffolk Hunt said: “We follow a scent trail and the Huntsman looks after the hounds and encourages them. We also have to know where we are allowed to go and be careful that we don’t damage any crops.”