Wet weather has forced a number of south Midlands hunts to draw a premature close to their season.
Masters of Foxhounds Association chairman Stephen Lambert supported the hunts’ decisions, telling H&H: “Some have decided to call it a day a week or fortnight earlier this year out of responsibility to the farming community, who have been so supportive and generous in allowing us to hunt through this very wet winter.”
The Bicester with Whaddon Chase are losing nine meets by finishing the season more than two weeks early. They held their closing meet on 23 February rather than 11 March.
The Oakley have lost even more sport, by ending on 16 February rather than 19 March.
Hunt secretary Fay Cooper said: “We are on clay and it’s so waterlogged that we have got to the point where, to keep the farmers happy, we have decided to pack it in early.”
The Warwickshire and North Cotswold are both ending a week before time.
Keith Arnold of the Warwickshire said: “The farmers have been really good, but we don’t want to push them too far. We don’t have any light ground — it’s all on Midland clay — and if you cut it up now it does not recover.”
They have brought their closing meet, traditionally held at Todenham, forward a week to 2 March.
However, despite rumours to the contrary, three local packs — the Pytchley, Grafton and Heythrop — have decided to carry on to the end of the season, barring further floods.
Vanessa Lambert, joint-master of the Heythrop, told H&H: “We have lost so many days since Christmas, including a week to the equine herpes outbreak, that we decided to keep going. We are lucky in having enough country to do so.”
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (28 February 2013)