North Shropshire joint-master Andy Wheals has silenced rumours concerning why hunting was cut short at the pack’s opening meet.
Hunting was abandoned on Saturday, 30 October shortly after 1pm. Since then, rumours have circulated that saboteurs produced a “fox in a box” to try to catch the hunt out.
One member of the field wrote on H&H’s website forum: “After about an hour, I had just started to get my horse settled when the day was cut short. Someone turned up with a live fox in a box with some others with cameras. The master called the day off as it became evident that they were going to let the fox free and film it.”
Another contacted H&H to say the story of saboteurs had been “fabricated to hide the real reason”.
But Mr Wheals said that hounds were sent home early due to a “disciplinary matter” between the master of the day and huntsman Martin Jarrett.
“It wasn’t one of the North Shropshire’s greatest days,” he admitted. “But there were no outside incidents, so it’s a case of Chinese whispers.”
Mr Wheals said the field was offered an apology, but no explanation. But he added that a “lump of money” was put behind the bar after hunting to make up for the short day.
“We know hunting is expensive, so if anyone is still unhappy, we would be pleased to reimburse them or offer another day’s hunting,” he said, adding that the pack has had some great days out since.
Mr Jarrett, who has hunted the North Shropshire hounds since 1985, declined to comment, other than to say the incident had been “blown out of all proportion”.
This article was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound, 25 November ’10