Huntsman Rick Dolphin, front, on the Isle of Wight Hunt on Monday. Picture by Robin Crossley.
DESPITE the government putting a vote to repeal the controversial hunting ban on hold, the traditional Boxing Day hunt will continue for years to come regardless, said a defiant former Isle of Wight Hunt master.
This year, the Isle of Wight Hunt broke with tradition by not holding the hunt on Boxing Day.
Hundreds of hunt supporters, comprising people of all ages, mainly from the Island farming community, followed the riders on foot and horseback from Nunnery Lane, Carisbrooke, to the Isle of Wight Hunt kennels in nearby Gatcombe on Monday.
Unlike hunts in the past, before the controversial ban was put in place, foxes are no longer chased across the countryside, nor are anti-hunt campaigners there to jeer the huntsmen.
Because of wintry conditions making the ground hard underfoot, this year’s ride lasted just 20 minutes.
Former Isle of Wight Hunt master Susie Sheldon said: "It was a good meet, with a lot of supporters there. We’re obviously disappointed the vote will now not go ahead but the government has other things to consider at the moment.
"Like any bad law — which the hunting ban is — I would like to see it repealed in the not-too-distant future.
"The Isle of Wight Hunt will meet again on Boxing Day next year and in future years, regardless of the ban."
Anti-hunt campaigners are delighted the government had shelved its promise to hold a vote on repealing the law banning fox hunting.
The government had made an election pledge to give a free vote in Parliament on the fox hunting legislation, passed five years ago, which outlawed hunting with hounds.
Joan Tisdale, of the Isle of Wight branch of The League Against Cruel Sports, said: "We cannot see the point of going out to the Isle of Wight Hunt any more. We are obviously pleased the government will not do the vote now, because we had fought long and hard for the ban."