Hunter hirelings hit by FMD

  • A West Country hireling yard is forced to sell more than half its horses in a bid to survive the continued hunting ban

    Some of his horses are up for sale, including children’s ponies, youngsters, point-to-pointers and proven hunters from a well established hirelings yard near Minehead, Somerset . A ban on hunting and the uncertainty of its re-commencement has left yard owner Kevin Lamacraft with little option, other than to sell.

    Not enough turnout and falling income means business has become difficult: “Exmoor has one of the longest seasons running from August to the end of April,” says Kevin. “Our horses are roughed off and usually spend about six weeks out at grass. We only own 10 acres, and it is starting to suffer.”

    Prior to the ban, Kevin and his wife had built up a thriving hireling business, which had seen visitors double in five years. Forced to diversify in order to make ends meet, the couple has concentrated their efforts on their small cattle farm.

    Although they hope to continue running the yard once hunting resumes, it will be on a much smaller scale with around 15 horses. . Mr Lamacraft’s children’s ponies are up for sale, while the horses being sold are either full or three-quarter Thoroughbreds, aged between four and eight and standing around 16hh to 16.3hh.

    “We haven’t earned any money since the end of February and maintaining 30 horses through winter with no income is unrealistic,” said Kevin.

    “These last few months I have felt more alone than ever before. I have had no support from either the Countryside Alliance, or my local MP, farmers affected by foot and mouth will be compensated, but I don’t get any.”

    For more information contact Kevin Lamacraft (tel: 01643 841130)

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