Hunt criticises report but Hornton villagers insist hounds were chasing a fox

Warwickshire Hunt has criticised a Banbury Guardian report on chaos when hounds followed a fox through Hornton at school collection time.

Monday, 13th January 2020, 11:54 am
Updated Monday, 13th January 2020, 12:20 pm
Hornton Primary School

But witnesses in different parts of the village have independently confirmed the details and are united in their condemnation of the hunt's behaviour.

The incident happened just after 3pm last Wednesday when hounds appeared in the village after a fox ran through. Some dogs got distracted in the village and mothers with young children sought refuge in the playground and were told not to let children out.

One mum said a hound had blood and 'flesh' in its mouth and that children - and mothers - were frightened.

Hornton village green

The hunt was contacted by the newspaper the following morning and responded on Friday. Its comments were included in the story which can be seen here.

However on Sunday the hunt complained about factual errors. They said the hunt was trail hunting and no hound was injured or had blood or flesh in its mouth. Any such claims were 'likely to be red mud from the ferrous soil in Hornton'.

The spokesman said no hound was whimpering with fear; no 'pack' was in the school so therefore no 'babes in arms' were caught up in it. No children were 'rounded up' or 'locked in the playground'. No hound was hit by a car. And only two hounds were separated from the pack and needed to be collected by the quad bike staff.

"We are very concerned these articles are becoming increasingly partisan," she said. "Our fear is that the florid, incendiary and divisive language currently being used alongside the reporting of here-say (sic) as fact may end up provoking another tragic incident."

One villager wrote to the Banbury Guardian on Saturday. He said: "A hound was hit; the woman whose car hit it arrived as horses blocked Millers Lane outside my house and my wife was calling to one of the riders to get the hounds off my car.

"The pack fractured around the school; I heard the pack in full cry about two hundred yards from the school. There were two instances of shrieks of pain.

"I quickly moved the dogs along the green lane and about thirty seconds later saw six to eight emerge on to the allotments via my garden. I watched them cross the allotments, which they had accessed via my and my neighbours' gardens, using my car as a launch pad, into a donkey field whose owner has made plain was out of bounds to hunts and through another neighbour’s plantation to land beyond.

"There were no whippers-in to be seen and the whole hunt was spread across a square mile of mostly built up area.

"Men on quad pickups were racing at speed through the village. One lady and her grandson were nearly hit by two coming down Holloway (a track) who, when she remonstrated with them, said 'one of the hounds has been injured' to which she answered 'children are more important than dogs'."

The villager described the incident as 'an absolute joke'. "It was negligent, arrogant and a completely cowboy operation. To be active after 3pm in a village is the height of irresponsibility," he said.

He said he thought the hunt disorganised and shambolic, lacking discipline and trained personnel to control the pack. "It was like a wild-west cowboy stampede but with dogs," he said.

A young mother said: "I was leaving the village at 3.10pm there were two off road vehicles part blocking the road attempting to stop cars passing as a fox was running around and two hounds. The hounds were large, not responding to the men's calls and the hounds continued up the hill.

"I had to stop the car four times because the hounds were running around the road or stopping. One had what appeared to be bloodied flesh in its jaw.

"Two large 4x4 cars did a u-turn in the road and began chasing the hounds who then ran into the nearby fields. These cars were also behaving quite dangerously. For people on foot it was scary; the hounds are large, looked very determined and would not respond to any commands."

Another mother who was at the school at the time said: "A hound that was outside the school gates had a big cut or hole in its leg with blood running down it and howling. The head and chair of governors were outside the gates. One of the teachers told everyone to keep the gates closed and not let any child out."

A third mum, who reported the incident to the police, said: "No one in the village has any reason to lie. They were out of control. The men on quad bikes were rude and dismissive. They said 'this is the countryside; get used to it'. It all went on for ten to fifteen minutes and a number in the village are very angry. It was thoroughly unpleasant.

"A friend saw the fox go up the path and a number of riders went as well. We saw the fox and multiple dogs. It is hard to believe they were not hunting that fox. If they can't control the dogs they shouldn't be trail hunting."