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Is the Chepstow Show inviting hunts again?

It looked for a while that organisers of the Chepstow Show – keen to avoid a repeat of the tricky questions they received last year about Hunts parading in the ‘Main Ring’ – had come up with a cunning plan.

Leaked minutes from a planning committee meeting in February suggested that they would invite the hunts again – they just weren’t going to let anyone know!

That would have been very underhand, right? Just sneak a fox hunt and a hare hunt onto the events list without a word and hope campaigners wouldn’t notice…

Now, either someone on the committee realised how that would look if it leaked or they knew that the minutes had already gone out the door, because recent online material seems to suggest they’ve dropped the subterfuge and are happy to give their backing to the Curre and Llangibby Hunt and the Woolaston Bassets once again.

It’s difficult to know though, because while the main header image on the show’s website has been changed to give the dates for the 2024 Show, the rest of the site still talks about 2023 and is exactly the same as the screenshots we took last year. We know it’s still a few months away, but come on organisers, it’s not difficult to update a website as basic as yours…

Either way – and in our opinion there is no way for Chepstow Show to win this as long as they’re inviting hunts to parade – whether they are lying about it or being upfront it is still a disappointment. That’s because (as anyone who’s even just glanced into this stuff knows) fox hunting and hare hunting are really, really nasty things indeed – and despite what hunts might claim about ‘trail hunting’ and ‘exercising the hounds’, in reality they are out there breaking the law, assaulting monitors, and killing wildlife…

 

The Curre and Llangibby Hunt

Before anyone from Chepstow Show mails Protect the Wild to insist the C and L really are only ‘trail hunting’, we suggest organisers take some time between now and the summer to educate themselves. It’s not as if there isn’t a truckload of accessible information about this bunch on the internet – in fact, we have rather a lot about them right here.

But to save them time searching through the literally hundreds of general posts explaining why ‘trail hunting’ is a smokescreen and detailing the ‘sickening level of hunt violence, we’ve cherry-picked a few choice excerpts.

From last August’s “Chepstow Show won’t review decision to host Curre and Llangibby Hunt” post for example:

The Curre’s kennels are based in Itton, a village in Monmouthshire, about 3 miles (4.8 km) north-west of Chepstow. Itton became notorious when former resident and terrierman Paul Reece …was convicted of causing ‘unnecessary suffering’ after an undercover investigation by the Hunt Investigation Team in May 2016. HIT detailed fox cubs being ‘fed’ to hounds from the South Herefordshire Hunt (which collapsed and disbanded soon afterwards).

One monitor (who asked not to be named because of a genuine fear of retribution) was threatened by a notorious (and reportedly cocaine-addicted) terrierman in November 2022 who swore violently at them and warned them that he had found out where they live.

…told us of a shocking incident that took place near the hunt’s kennels in Itton when they “encountered a loose, unaccompanied terrier, covered in blood. We were somewhat alarmed. A local boy told us that the hunt was out nearby and this happened frequently. But you don’t get blood-covered terriers from trail hunting.”

Or how about a detailed report provided by the Secret Monitor who wrote at length about the C and L and the lawbreaking they’d witnessed:

We were out monitoring the huge meet at the Huntsman Hotel, a pub at Shirenewton. There were at least 100 hunt support vehicles parked in and around the pub, along the main B4235 and in and around the village of Shirenewton itself. The disruption caused to ordinary folks trying to pass by was dreadful. It was mayhem!…They were illegally parked at junctions and crossroads too. At one point, a hunt supporter had to direct traffic around the blockages.

We found the Curre and Llangibby hunt trespassing in National Resource Wales woods – again! The supporters were very aggressive. [A] man …was accusing me of going to his house! I have no idea who he is or where he lives…Another supporter tried to knock my phone out of my hands and another one “mooned” at me.

Just in case Chepstow Show does decide to openly embrace the hunt after all and is casting around for a few images for their leafletting or online advertising, how about these photos of fun-loving folk from the C and L’s support (yes, you have permission to use them from the monitors who took them):

 

Woolaston Bassets

Hare hunting was made illegal by the Hunting Act two decades ago. Does the Chepstow Show really want to be associated with a group that goes out every week to kill one of the nation’s most loved animals? An animal that is in decline to boot (Brown Hares have declined by at least 80% in the last 100 years)?

Apparently so, they just might not want to tell visitors about it.

Wollaston Bassetts (Facebook)

That’s understandable really. Despite posing as members of a dog-walking club that enjoy nothing more than getting into fancy dress to trample daffodils, hare hunts are inherently cruel. Exhausted hares are rarely killed quickly, but are ripped apart instead. If there is anything left of the hare after being ‘ragged’ by the dogs, the hunt like to cut off their heads and tails to keep as trophies.

If they can’t find hares the hounds will often be set on rabbits – which are not covered by the Hunting Act as successive government’s have labelled them officialy as ‘pests’. A ‘this-is-all-completely-normal-honestly’ style voiceover on a video on one of the numerous ‘sporting channels’ that glorify this kind of killing, followed the Woolaston Bassets as their dogs raced after a terrified rabbit fleeing for its life in front of hunt support. A member of the hunt smirks at the camera saying, “Well, that was a pretty good chase, you don’t normally see a rabbit being chased for that long…that was a bit of fun”. Not what most people would consider fun at all, we’d suggest…

Hare hunts are only infrequently monitored, and (because they can’t escape on horseback) tend to pack up when monitors do arrive. That leads to huge underreporting. Even so, by collating reports from the public and reports online, our own ‘Hunting: A Case for Change’ analysis found that despite hare hunting being banned “there were nearly 70 active hare hunting packs during the 2022/23 season” and that “likely thousands of hares were killed” during the “more than 2000 meets held by hunts that chase and kill hares as their primary quarry”.

That’s a lot of pain and a lot of blood spilt illegally. But given that the hunt itself ‘will not be advertised’, that’s probably not something the Chepstow Show will be telling the kiddies as they queue up to pet the lovable bassets in the show ring either…

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Can’t kick the habit?

It seems like whether promoting them openly or snaffling them in via the back door hidden under a blanket, the Chepstow Show organisers (and hosts Chepstow Racecourse) just can’t kick the dirty ‘hunting habit’.

That’s a damn shame, because promoting wildlife killers and lawbreakers as ‘family friendly’ and giving space to people who think ripping animals apart is just ‘a bit of fun’ is not a good look. Not a good look at all…

 

  • If you would like to ask the Chepstow Show to clarify what is going on and/or to reconsider its decision to invite the hunts to parade please contact the Show Secretary at chepstowshow@hotmail.co.uk.