Ban Passed on U.K. Hunting with Hounds

According to, the U.K. House of Commons on Nov. 18 used the Parliament Act to force through the a bill to ban hunting with hounds. "Following disagreement between the Commons and the Lords, the Parliament Act was invoked for only the fourth (time) since 1949 to force a Bill through," said the article. The British Horse Society (BHS) has expressed its concern on the ban's potential effect on equine welfare--specifically, on what will happen to the many horses bred and trained specifically for foxhunting purposes.

Hunting with hounds will be banned in England and Wales beginning Feb. 18, 2005. The ban includes fox hunting, deer hunting, and hare coursing. The Countryside Alliance is challenging the ban "based on claims that the 1949 Parliament Act used to force it through was illegitimate," said the Equine World UK web site.

Earlier in November, Graham Cory, Chief Executive of The BHS, urged the government to recognize potential for harm to equine welfare if hunting were to be banned outright. While the BHS remained neutral on the broader ethical issue of a ban, Cory said the society was concerned the government had not considered the risk to equine welfare, and urged the government and fox hunters to reach a middle ground.

Cory believes that many horses bred for foxhunting will not be able to make a seamless transition into "riding schools or the hacking market," he said. "By temperament and conformation these are strong and vigorous animals--horses for courses, one might say. Moreover, it is these genetic traits of strength, agility, and stamina which make them so important to the development of our top sports horses. To expect these hunting horses to thrive in roles for which they are not suited by breeding would be as unrealistic as to expect trained sheepdogs to thrive as family pets."

Cory dismissed the suggestion of drag hunting as a total substitute for the sport of foxhunting, saying that, "Non-hunters who confidently assert that those who currently hunt foxes will happily transmute into drag-hunters (in much the same way, one presumes, that anglers would happily transmute into duckers for apples if fishing were to be banned) have yet to explain the evidential basis for their assertions."

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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