The Countryside Alliance’s annual Newcomers’ Week received fantastic support when it returned to the hunting calendar between 21 and 28 October 2023.
This initiative, which was supported by the British Hound Sports Association, saw hunts across the country welcoming those new to hunting and giving them an insight into the joys of following hounds, whether that was mounted or on foot.
A number of packs held specific newcomers’ events for the first time this year, with some also opening kennels for a tour to show how the hounds are kept. As newcomers’ week fell in half term in many areas, other hunts combined their newcomers’ meet with a children’s priority meet, all done with the intention of welcoming those who wished to follow hounds for the first time or were returning to hunting after a break.
Polly Portwin, Director of the Alliance’s hunting campaigns welcomed the positive feedback received from hunts across the country: “We recognise the appetite for these events and are delighted that so many hunts engaged with this initiative. Hunts welcome new supporters all throughout the year but the beginning of the season offers the ideal opportunity to welcome new faces and this often leads to those newcomers becoming regular subscribers.”
“For those who might have missed the dedicated newcomers’ events, you will still be welcome to join your local pack and we recommend that you contact your local hunt secretary for details of the most suitable meets. Please also refer to our website for the Countryside Alliance’s dedicated Boxing Day meet listings and interactive map which will be updated throughout December.”
Ahead of newcomers’ week, the Alliance offered tips to newcomers about how to prepare for the meet, including who to contact ahead of the day, what to wear, how to ensure your horse is ready and that you arrive as relaxed as possibly by planning ahead. The guidance also reminded newcomers not to engage with hunt saboteurs or hunt monitors.