The Controversial Topic of Hunting
It’s a controversial topic we’re looking at today. Horseback hunting. This particular blog writer is based in the UK, where hunting foxes (and other wild mammals) with dogs was banned in 2005. The ban came about because of growing opposition to the sport and concerns about its treatment of the animals and the safety of riders and protestors.
As well as the animal welfare aspect, several more reasons make it controversial. These include cultural and regional differences as well as issues around land use and wildlife management. Those who are for hunting argue that it’s an important rural tradition, whilst opponents argue it's cruel and absolutely unnecessary.
Other forms of fox control have since been introduced but they have also faced opposition and calls for stricter regulation.
In the United States, hunting is generally viewed as a legitimate form of wildlife management and recreation, although some forms of hunting, such as trophy hunting, have faced criticism from animal welfare groups and the general public. Horseback hunting is regulated by state wildlife agencies, and the rules and regulations vary depending on the state and the species being hunted.
So how did it all begin?
In the UK – it actually dates back to the 16th century in England, when it was a popular pastime among the landed gentry. By the 18th and 19th centuries, it had evolved further with the formation of hunt clubs and the establishment of formal rules and procedures.
Originally, it was used to control the populations of foxes, which were seen as a threat to livestock. Over time, it became less about practical pest control and more about the sport and social aspects of the pursuit.
It then became popular in other countries too, including the United States, where it was introduced in the colonial era. Despite these controversies, horseback hunting remains a popular sport with hunters riding in pursuit of foxes, stags, and other game. When it comes to the horses, modern hunting often involves the use of specialized breeds, such as Thoroughbreds, which are of course, bred for speed, endurance, and athleticism.
In the UK, where fox hunting is the most common form of horseback hunting, it often involves large packs of hounds and a large group of riders. In the US, horseback hunting is often done on a smaller scale, with one or a few riders pursuing game such as deer, elk, or coyotes and is seen as a recreational activity that can also serve a practical purpose, such as controlling populations of wild game that may be damaging crops or property.
Horse tack for hunting
When it comes to tack, the essentials are much the same as other equine pursuits.
Saddles and bridles are generally more specialized in the UK, where the sport is more established and has a longer history. In the US, hunting gear is often less specialized, with many riders using gear that is also suitable for other equestrian activities.
Saddles: for hunting this is typically a close-contact saddle, which allows the rider to have a more secure seat on the horse. They often have a deep seat and long flaps, which provide more stability and support while jumping obstacles.
Bridles: hunting bridles are usually a simple design, with a plain snaffle bit and a plain or slightly raised noseband. Although some people prefer a more robust bit for hunting – depending how eager the horse is…
Hunting has become subject to more control in recent years and some may view this as a hindrance, but it is ultimately a positive development. The additional regulations and restrictions ensure that horse hunting is conducted in a safe and responsible manner, both for the horses and for the individuals involved in the activity. By implementing these measures, the horse hunting community can help to preserve the long-term viability of the sport and do their bit to ensure that it remains a sustainable and ethical pursuit.