An anti-hunting activist has been left with concussion after he was ridden down by a member of the North Shropshire hunt, with the shocking incident caught on video.
A member of the Staffordshire Hunt Sabs, an organisation which tries to monitor and prevent the illegal hunting of foxes, was taken to hospital after the incident and has given a statement to police.
A member of the North Shropshire hunt rode directly into an anti-hunting activist on 15 January, causing him to seek hospital treatment for concussion and back pain.
West Mercia Police has said it is aware of the incident and is “carrying out investigations to understand if any offences occurred".
West Midlands Ambulance Service said it was called after "reports of a patient who’d become injured after an incident involving a horse".
"We sent one ambulance to the scene and treated a man for injuries not believed to be serious and he was conveyed to hospital for further treatment," it added.
In a post on the Staffordshire Hunt Sabs Facebook page, it states: “The sab has since been released following a CT scan, with severe neck and upper back pain and swelling on his temple from direct impact with the horse.
“Thankfully the horses’ hooves somehow missed the sab’s body as [the hunter] ploughed over him and his injuries are consistent with severe impact. The sab attempted to walk but fell to the ground repeatedly, at one point losing consciousness briefly. He was then able to walk for assistance and wait for an ambulance where he was told he was lucky to be alive.
“Many members of the hunt…were seen swiftly returning to the meet point to box up and go home before police arrived on the scene. Several were seen laughing and shouted to sabs they were allowed to ‘canter up and down our fields’.
The group claim that while one of the hunters rode directly at a saboteur, another rider rode “dangerously close to sabs at speed” while another “dismounted from his horse to threaten a lone female sab”.
They added: “We believe much of the anger from the hunt yesterday came from sabs successfully moving hounds away from woodland where a fox had been sighted, which the huntsman was attempting to flush with hounds.”
A spokesperson for the North Shropshire Hunt said: “The hunt is aware of an incident which occurred while the mounted followers were riding across private farmland on Saturday, 15th January.
“As can be seen in the heavily-edited footage, the rider involved was closely following behind two other horses and was unable to take evasive action to avoid the person who was unexpectedly in front of him when the two horses in front suddenly changed direction.
“The hunt follower was very shocked about what happened so reported the incident to hunt officials and they immediately returned to offer assistance to the injured party and also informed the police.
They added: “The hunt wishes [the victim] a speedy recovery and will, of course, assist the police with any further enquiries regarding this matter.”
Is fox hunting illegal?
The incident, which took place in Whitchurch, Shropshire, is one of a number of violent incidents involving hunting groups to have taken place recently.
A police officer was injured while trying to confiscate a mobile phone from a member of a hunt in Leicestershire recently, and footage has emerged from a hunt in Nottinghamshire which seems to show a fox being savaged by hunting dogs.
While hunting with hounds was banned by the Hunting Act in 2004, many hunts continue to operate as what they describe as “trail hunts”.
According to the hunting community, trail hunts involve an artificial trail being laid before a hunt is due to ride out, with the hunt then following that trail for the day, to mimic the activity of real hunting.
However, anti-hunting activists have long claimed that the vast majority of hunts that are still active use this claim to continue with their illegal hunting activities.
Last year a leaked video from a webinar showed Mark Hankinson, Director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, saying that ‘plausible’ trail hunting can be used as ‘smokescreen’ for illegal hunting.
Hankinson was later found guilty of encouraging and assisting people to evade the ban on fox hunting.
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