All hunting has sadly come to an abrupt end due to the Covid-19 virus. My children, the Frampettes, are elated by the lack of school but savage about having to cancel their long-awaited hunting trip to Dorset.
What a dismal end to the wettest season I can ever remember. Despite these conditions, our farmers have been amazing with their generosity and support throughout.
Our hunt, like many, has created teams within our community to support those in need. The hunt country has been divided into areas, and people assigned to coordinate the help that has been offered.
I am personally not a great shopper, but seem to have been given this little challenge. The thought of a supermarket scares me at the best of times, but we are in a wartime situation and fears must be faced head on. So off I went with the numerous lists that had been sent through, including pictures of said products just in case I didn’t know… how kind.
Shopping for a present MFH and a past MFH was most interesting. The current young MFH required baby products, ketchup and condoms, all of which are easily found in Aldi. The more senior former MFH has different requirements: gin, Fever Tree tonic, nuts and crisps – all of which required a more upmarket supermarket.
It was going well until I bumped – metaphorically; a two-metre distance was maintained – into one of our farmer’s wives. I could see her staring into the trolley. I started to tell her that I was shopping for three families in lockdown. She looked even more confused, so I did that thing all masters do and started to apologise.
As I left the car park, my thoughts turned to summer visitations. Thankfully that’s on hold right now and I might just leave that particular farmer to the bottom of the list.
‘A different sort of summer’
The effect on hunts will be huge, the most immediate of which will no doubt be a loss of income. Many have already lost events over the winter due to the wet weather and now will lose those spring fundraisers, many of which are large earners. All hunts will be looking hard at their budgets. Cuts will have to be made in the short term, but we must maintain our high levels of animal welfare regardless of the cost.
All staff will be doing their best to go about their daily duties while keeping themselves safe and working within guidelines. Many will be worrying about their impending moves to their new jobs and if they are going to be allowed to go. This could cause real problems if these changes are delayed, with kennels being understaffed.
It’s going to be a different sort of summer. Hound shows and puppy shows will be on hold, as well as the numerous other social functions that hunts put on. These are essential in keeping our strong and diverse community together outside the hunting season. Social media has an important part to play in keeping communication going within hunts and their local communities.
We have been through this sort of scenario before, during foot-and-mouth, and survived. Hunts remained loyal to their staff and members and subscribers supported their hunts despite the fact there was little or no hunting that season for many. We must all remain positive that life will get back to normal and that the hounds will be back in full operation in September.
Ref Horse & Hound; 9 April 2020