11th February – Cotswold Hunt

So whilst some sabs were at the Ledbury one of us joined Cirencester Illegal Huntwatch at Salperton Park where the Cotswold were meeting. This really is the land of Mordor…where the shadows lie. This is within the North Cotswold cull zone and in August a highly illegal raptor trap was found on the estate, a few days later gamekeeper’s wife Rachel Cooper was filmed checking where it was….nice. It is also rumoured that David Cameron, former PM shoots here….

Anyway we were in the field before 06.00 in almost blizzard conditions looking for anyone out sett blocking, thanks to those who came out. As yet no blocked setts have been found which is odd. Odder still was that they actually went out on horses but hey ho. As this is the land of Mordor we had lots of orcs out in a blue Izuzu V018NFH who actually thought that they could intimidate us. At one stage they threw one of CIHW’s cameras on the floor in a fit of pique and we are all hags, peeeedoes and some other stuff which is too pervy to print here.

At one stage the hounds were very busy trying to get into brambles at the old Quarry just north of Salperton village and they were so defensive that even their own followers were misidentified as sabs. Funny enough the orc boys were being very obnoxious and started assaulting us on the public road with one even standing in front of the driver’s door so she couldn’t get in her car. One 14 year old called Ben (who was sporting a very distinctive red face covering) was very keen to push into one small female egged on by his older comrades.

The hunt left rapidly…..20 minutes later they were back, so were we…..20 minutes later there they were lurking about so were we so off they went again.

Very cold, long, miserable day. One consolation was many of the Heythrop crowd were seen out with them as well so they must have cancelled or it was a joint meet. Either way one less hunt out.

This was the first day that we had our new cameras out courtesy of the Hunt Saboteur’s Association so thankyou to them.

10th and 11th February – Ledbury Hunt

A busy couple of days once again in the three counties with info coming in about various meets.

Yesterday saw a couple of us head out to the Ledbury who were meeting in Longdon, so a sab went out early to check setts nearby and was pleased to find that none of the usual were blocked! The morning seemed to be quite blank with hounds hardly speaking, but as a second sab arrived it all picked up with hounds splitting, half on the scent of a fox we had spotted and the other half on the hares who had just run off across the field. Even whipper-in looked concerned (he was probably wondering how best to control the hounds and stop them rioting now that Mark believes the use of whips to be outdated and unprofessional… See our court-report for clarity!) Throughout the day, 3 new setts were found, 2 setts had been blocked and others left open nearby and one hound almost ran under the wheels of our car (lucky we were going slow enough to react). So much for that ‘Golden Thread’ hey Mark, think it must have got snagged somewhere.

With good communication between us and Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch we decided that between us we could check setts prior to Heythrop and Cotswold meets today as they would be hunting close to each other.

Other 3C sabs meanwhile headed to the Ledbury Hunt who were having a rare Saturday meet – a children’s meet, like this time last year when they hunted foxes, blocked setts, the huntsman rode a sab into a hedge and terriermen ended the day by hanging a dead fox out of the window of their vehicle on the way past on the A417.

This year, however, the dynamic had changed somewhat and, while they still picked up, not every fox was chased… and only the one terrierman was out (he seems to have lost a lot of his usual company recently…).

From the meet at Tweenhills, around which one of our sabs had been checking setts this morning, they headed across the busy A417 and into Woolridge, down into Maisemore at speed and back across the A-road towards the site of last year’s assault on the sab. Scent was on and off until hounds got up into a nearby hill which we know well from the badger culls. Mark didn’t seem happy to see us up there and the person he quickly tried to call seemed not to pick up the phone, but they had a run round and round the woodland before moving off again. A fox was spotted heading for safety in a badger sett nearby.

Off onto another hill with another sett and a similar occurrence then back down on to land owned by the Master and hounds almost rioted and ran off on the scent of a deer before packing up. Quite a fast-paced day for a Children’s meet, but shorter than a normal day out. Thanks to the lovely sab from Welsh Borders who always brightens up our Saturdays and to sabs from Bristol and South Wales groups who joined us out there today. Also to the person who made the warming (vegan) Shepherd’s Pie for afterwards

There were some very original comments made about parking tickets (honestly Vicki, no one made exactly the same joke earlier in the day or yesterday at all, well done for being so imaginative) and some confusion when we complimented whippers-in on their beautiful ceremonial whips – seems we’re not the only ones who think Mark talks a load of …

Support us? PayPal.me/threecountiessabs and watch this space for other reports from today’s outings.

4th February – Three Counties Bloodhounds

Late post re Saturday 4th February. The Three Counties Bloodhounds met at Caradoc Estate in Herefordshire, at the heart of South Herefordshire Hunt country. As many will know the SHH are currently under investigation by the police re cruelty to fox cubs. However the point of the day, courtesy of Bryon John (Master of bloodhounds), Anne Brummer of Save me and the hunt supporters was to watch the Hounds ‘hunt the clean boot’.

There were 3 runners and 5 lines. We had been invited to attend as the local sab group and our sab Elaine ran all 5 lines with the other 2 runners. Many supporters from different locals packs attended the meet to see hunting which does not harm wildlife and we hope gave them something to consider as a way forward with no hounds on roads, no kills, no dig outs, no sett blocking, no trespassing and no sabbing.

It was a positive day and we were glad that we took part.

7th February – Court Report

Almost a year after he assaulted a 3C sab, Ledbury huntsman Mark Melladay finally had his day in court. On February 13th last year, during a children’s meet in Hartpury, Mark rode his horse at one of our sabs after we temporarily stopped hounds on the scent of a fox.

Initially the police decided to take no further action against him but, with much help from Outpaced, we pushed for a review and, just hours after his son Sam had laughed and commented that we had failed to get him into court, we heard that the case had been reopened. Despite some police from Gloucestershire and West Mercia actually doing their jobs properly, we have little faith in the legal system, so this was a victory in itself.

Mark was found ‘not guilty’ in Magistrates’ Court in Cheltenham and we believe that this is the fault of the CPS. While the assault was not a serious one, it was still an unjustified use of force, but (compared to the usual ‘playing it safe’ that the CPS chooses to do) he was charged with assault by battery which requires proof of actual physical contact between defendant and victim. While contact was certainly made, there wasn’t enough clear proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. We can live with that, the fact that the CPS aimed too high when they should have stuck with a simple common assault charge… these things happen.

What is starting to become very clear, however, is the fact that hunts are relying heavily on the fact that many police and CPS prosecutors and judges / Magistrates do not understand hunting, what it looks like, tactics used and so on. For argument’s sake, let’s say that the hunt were indeed following a trail and that sabs were disrupting this activity… Mark still would not be justified in behaving the way he did. Whether the hunt were following a false trail or a scent left by a real fox is irrelevant to whether he is guilty of the offence. However, while we were not supposed to talk in court about what the hunt were up to, outside of the events surrounding the assault, he was allowed to speak about how his hunt is ‘harassed’ by masked hunt saboteurs and disrupted from following the false trails laid everytime that they go out. With the prosecution giving their arguments first, the defence following with theirs, his solicitor decided that the court should hear some of the context surrounding the incident. Very one-sided. Despite the fact that this ‘context’ should not have affected the decision of the court regarding the assault, it’s very one rule for us, another for him!

He was originally believed when he said that we were holloa’ing and causing the hounds to run off dangerously down a road, despite video evidence showing that this was not the case, purely because police do not understand ‘rating’ and the use of whips. It would seem that whatever he says, in his original statements and in court, out-trumps any footage supplied.

In court he was left unchallenged, again because of authorities not knowing how hunts work, when he said that whips frighten hounds and cause them to run away and that the use of whips is very unprofessional as the whips are only carried as a ‘ceremonial’ object. We suggest hunts across the country save money by not employing whippers-in then, whose job it is to control hounds largely through the use of whips… Despite the fact that none of this would change the fact that the court did not deem there to be enough evidence of battery, it would have undermined the court’s idea that Mark was a credible witness. Additionally, being adamant that he did not threaten to rip anyone’s head off…

We have had a good laugh about a number of things since (you have to laugh sometimes) and were shocked by other statements made, including, but not limited to:

– Mark suggesting that it was “probably the next witness” in court (Peter Cooksey) who had been the one threatening to rip our heads off (Cooksey does not recall saying such things)

– Mark telling the court that the hunt only carry whips as a ‘ceremonial’ thing and do not use them as they are unprofessional to use and scare the hounds

– Mark saying that the hounds have no road sense at all, the video then showing that hounds went on to the road with no hunt support / staff present to slow traffic or ensure their safety, apparently following a trail laid (irresponsibly so then…)

– Mark saying that “a man” (who must have been Peter Cooksey) was parked up in order to warn traffic that hounds were coming… then Cooksey stated that he did not know where hounds would be coming through or where they would go once on the road, that he had only been on the road for about a minute and probably would not have left his vehicle if he had not seen us… doing a wonderful job of warning traffic about the hounds’ pending arrival then!

– Both Cooksey and Mark saying that the hounds were heading for a particular place in the opposite hedge that is safe for them to cross and go through from the road (presumably a large gap if the entire pack are expected to get off the road quickly) and that that is where the trail was laid… then Mark saying he only had a vague idea where the trail was laid and Cooksey saying he had no idea where it was laid

– Mark stating that horses are not allowed in that field, so he would have gone in on foot (as he did so so in the video). So, if the hounds had gone in before he reached the road, he would be on foot and behind an uncontrolled pack of hounds…?

– Mark suggesting that the sab purposefully walked into the hedge in front of him as she knew (presumably psychicly) that he intended to go to that point in the hedge, but also stated that “she’s known for stumbling” and that is why she ended up in it!

– The reason given for Mark riding towards the hedge is that he had to get the horse to face towards the gap which the hounds were supposed to use as what is known as the ‘Golden Thread’ means that hounds will go in the direction the horse is facing… It’s the first we’ve heard ‘the Golden Thread’ being defined in that way…!

– Cooksey being adamant that, despite only being asked last week to recall the events of last February 13th, he can “remember exactly what [he] saw”… the next question asked of him was answered with a silence that lasted almost 20 seconds, followed by the question being rephrased and being answered with the words “I’m fairly sure…”

– The defence solicitor’s idea that Mark was only concerned about getting the hounds off the road… which he should have thought about before having a trail laid across it and he probably should have ensured that he or another member of hunt staff (like the presumably soon-to-be-sacked ‘ceremonial’ whipper-in) was on the road before the hounds got there

All in all, an EXTREMELY informative and interesting day in court. A little worrying how much Mark and Cooksey can get away with saying things like ‘hounds were running off down the road’, accusing us of spraying citronella and pushing the horse around and refusing to accept that either said anything about ripping our heads off when the video footage clearly shows a different scene, but we expect little more from the legal system. In addition, we understand courts taking into account if someone has not committed previous offences when they are found guilty of their first… Being of previous good character should be taken into account. But not when deciding how credible a witness is. Every criminal was ‘of good character’ up until a point in their lives, everyone starts somewhere!

We’ll keep you all updated on future developments. See you in the fields!

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4th February – Duke of Beaufort’s and Three Counties Bloodhounds

Today was a busy day for our group and friends from other groups that we normally sab with. Our thoughts are with our friends who witnessed, and filmed, a kill by the Cheshire Foxhounds. Well done getting the footage in such an awful situation! Facebook Video from Cheshire Sabs

Some of our group met up with Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch who were planning to attend a meet of the Beaufort who would be meeting at Westonbirt School once again. Others attended a meet of the Three Counties Bloodhounds (who follow the scent of a consenting human runner). Separate report to follow!

At the Beaufort we struggled to stick with them for the first part of the day, however just as the hunt moved off from the meet a fox broke cover in front of a member of CIHW and ran directly towards a known covert. The hunt hounds were quick to follow and terriermen headed straight for the area too, only to find a couple of CIHW present.

Soon after a large, light ginger dog fox broke cover on a track by 3C and friends and his line was sprayed well. We believe that he was part of a brace (pair) of foxes and that his mate also got away. The hounds came through the area a little later but missed his line.

As the hunt met for ‘second-horse’ we caught up with them again and managed to stick with them well from there on. Hounds were inland by Westonbirt School, in full cry, when a fox leapt a wall by the school in front of our vehicle and ran through hunt supporters’ vehicles on the road and through the hedge opposite. We sprayed his line well and split up with some of us driving round to the other side of the land in case he carried on running through and others staying on the road anticipating the hounds arrival.

Hounds were soon at the wall and we use rating and whips to stop all but 2 on the line before huntsman encouraged them round into the land from another direction. It’s possible that there was another brace as hounds split for a little while, rated off one line and distracted with holloas from the other. At this point they picked up on a scent, but we believe that they ran along the heel line (this means they were on the scent of a fox but in the wrong direction) as they ended up back where the fox had jumped over the wall.

Hunt supporters seemed pretty confused about, well, life in general. And obsessed with sex. We’re used to being falsely accused of spraying hounds with our sprays, but we were shouted at for spraying cars today… Not sure why or what the point would be. A 3C sab almost had her whip grabbed, being shouted at for whipping near the hounds as it is cruel… The man was informed that he should have a word with the hunt then as they specifically employ people called whippers-in to use whips near the hounds. And that if he didn’t understand hunting he probably shouldn’t come out to support it. He didn’t appreciate the sarcasm, nor did another supporter who shouted at the sab ‘don’t use that language, you slut!’ Certain inconsistencies in the point she was trying to make were quickly mentioned.

Terriermen and their friends surprised us today by not acting aggressively (then again, Captain F has given us his number to call if anyone gives us trouble!) They did make various sexual comments to a 3C sab and a number of extremely witty (there’s that sarcasm again) comments regarding her whip. A light jog put one of them off chasing the sab amongst laughter and remarks made by his mates regarding potential heart attacks. He tried to get his own back with a failed attempt to trip her, but at least he was (just about) able to laugh at himself too…

To the landowner who asked the sab ‘when was the last time you had sex?!’ as she explained he was allowing illegal hunting on his land, if that’s the best you can come up with you’ve got issues. At least he didn’t repeatedly say ‘it’s not fair!’ like the other lady who spoke to us. But while you allow the hunt to chase foxes on your land, you can expect us too.

Video and photos to follow as well as a separate report from the Bloodhounds. In the meantime, please support our friends from Welsh Borders Hunt Sabs, Cheshire Hunt Sabs, North Wales Sabs and Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch!

28th January – CVFH

Report nicked from Welsh Border Hunt Sabs

The Cotswold Vale
– Southwick Farm
– 28th Jan 2017
(with a quick stop off at Caradoc Court to see Patrick Darling)

After rumours of the possible attendance of hounds at Caradoc court, and because it was kind of on the way (and we are dead nosey) we called in for a visit before heading off to join up with other Three Counties hunt saboteurs at Southwick for a meet of the Cotswold Vale Farmers Hunt.

On arrival, we were greeted by “the Bicester Boys” lead by Tom Thumb, the teeny tiniest hunt steward you ever did see, who immediately tried to block the way of the two shortest females walking along the road. Definite case of small man syndrome.

As the hunt moved towards Apperley village, we found Simon drawing a small wood. With sabs on both sides, calling hounds out, he cast the hounds into a small wood. As the hounds went into cry, and with Simon the other side of the small woodland, out of sight of the pack, it was down to sabs to stop the rioting hounds. Did we receive any thanks for our valiant efforts? No, not unless you consider a rather inappropriate comment about one sabs behind a sign of gratitude. Sadly, not from a Tory councillor, oh well, back to the fundraising drawing board for us.

With the hunt moving off across the road, we found them drawing along a small hedge line. With a little bit of rating, hounds moved off towards “the ridge”. For a little while, they were out of sight but we could here hounds speaking from time to time. It was at this point that the other sab vehicle had a bird scarer thrown at it by the Bicester boys, who by now were pissed up as later that evening was the very prestigious Hunt Ball (sarcasm, btw).

Hounds moved to the bottom of the ridge and began went into cry. Sabs used horn and voice calls to lift their heads, leaving Simon to gather them all up and head for home. Whilst waiting for hounds to move off back towards the meet, we had a game of “Guess who” with Four Shires bloodhounds ex, “Ruby”. He wasn’t very good but hey, he’s riding with the Cotty Vile so no surprise really.

As we checked to make sure they were back at the meet, and just as we were turning round to head home, the Boys turned up with Podgy Hodges in tow desperate to play. SO for the next half hour, they blocked us in, refusing to allow us to leave, in spite of the fact we were on a public road, all be it a dead end one. So what to do in such a situation? Panic? Loose your temper? Nah, sit and eat cake and have a bit of a laugh. Eventually , the pissed up dickheads got bored and left and we waved them goodbye as they swerved up the road. Shame the police failed to attend as they would have managed to nab two drunk hunt drivers. We guess Tewksbury Police aren’t that bothered about keeping drunks off the road. Who knew?

All in all, not a bad day. The question now is, Who will replace Simon? We await with baited breathe.

Welsh Border Hunt Sabs

Please check out there facebook video from WBHS