HOUNDS MOVED FROM THE MAIN RING

The Great Yorkshire Show, an annual agricultural event held in Harrogate, has chosen to move a hound parade away from the show’s main ring. The Telegraph reported that the parade traditionally involves hunting hounds, and that hounds from the Bedale Hunt and Middleton Hunt are regular participants. Instead, the hounds this year will remain in “dedicated pens” distributed throughout the showground.

Speaking in the Telegraph, members of the Bedale and Middleton Hunts blamed alleged “activists” for the decision by the show’s board. Countryside Alliance chief Tim Bonner even described the change as the result of a “sustained campaign of harassment”.

However, a spokesperson for the show told the Telegraph that “several changes” had were made to the 2022 event and that:

“All decisions taken are always considered and balanced, and that includes the decision to postpone the Hound Parade in the Main Ring this year.”

Keep The Ban contacted the Great Yorkshire Show for further comment but hadn’t received a response at the time of publishing.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER?

Hound parades are comment events at agricultural shows across the country. They involve full packs of hounds on display to the show’s crowd, with hunt staff and masters riding close behind. As part of the main ring, the hunt and hounds become a focal point for the event. And in this way, hound parades act as a propaganda piece for the hunting industry.

During West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs ultimately successful campaign against the Atherstone Hunt, it campaigned for the Ashby Show to stop its hound parade. And the response to the campaign by the hunting industry provides insight into why hound parades matter.

On 20 June 2017, equestrian and hunting publication Horse & Hound covered the sab group’s campaign. In the article Polly Portwin, head of hunting for Countryside Alliance, said that hound parades:

“present a great opportunity for hunts to explain to the general public and those that have little or no understanding about hunting, about how hunts operate legally within the confines of the Hunting Act and also encourage newcomers.”

However, the anti-hunting movement has repeatedly shown that hunts do not operate legally including Great Yorkshire Show participants the Middleton Hunt. The League Against Cruel Sports exposed the hunt in 2015 for breeding fox cubs. And apart from any legal standing, hunting is a cruel pastime that harms all of the animals involved. Many of the hounds on display at a parade will have had others in their pack recently shot and killed, as exposés by Hunt Investigation Team and Ecotricity have shown.

Hound parades try to paint a ‘chocolate box’ image of the hunting industry. A 2016 article in the Yorkshire Post about the Great Yorkshire Show itself illustrates the passions that hound parades are attempting to tap into. But in the end they are little more than part of the smokescreen used to facilitate a cruel and criminal activity for an activity that’s rapidly dwindling.

COMING TO AN END

Grantham Against Blood Sports noted the significance of Great Yorkshire Show’s decision saying “Tick-Tock” in a Facebook post. Other anti-hunting groups also welcomed the announcement. York Anti-Hunt League said it was “good news” and a “bold decision” by Yorkshire Agricultural Society, which organises the event. Meanwhile West Yorkshire Hunt Saboteurs said “Don't let the door hit you on the way out”.

Whatever the motivations behind the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s decision, it’s clear that hunting is coming under ever greater pressure. Reactions by hunt supporters quoted in the Telegraph’s article show that. And dismantling the hunting industry’s propaganda machinery is a crucial step forwards.

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