Slideshow: Hundreds turn out for Boxing Day hunt tradition

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An estimated 400 people turned out to watch a spectacle that has been part of English country life for centuries.

Suffolk Hunt’s senior master Richard Ames said its traditional Boxing Day meet this year had more riders and spectators than ever before.

Suffolk Hunt's  Boxing Day meet

Suffolk Hunt's Boxing Day meet

“To the public it’s still a wonderful spectacle,” he said. “We were also blessed with better weather than we’ve had of late.”

The crowds saw 50 riders head out from Hawstead Lodge Farm at Pinford End, south of Bury St Edmunds, with 31-and-a-half couple of hounds. Over the next four-and-a-half hours, they covered about 25 miles.

Mr Ames said: “I’d like to thank the land owners because the conditions were very wet so we had to be careful not to damage crops or footpaths.”

Since the hunting ban began in 2005, the hunt has followed an artificial trail, though if the hounds put up a fox a golden eagle is flown to kill it.

Hawstead Boxing Day Hunt

Hawstead Boxing Day Hunt

Mr Ames said: “We’ve probably had an increase in rider numbers since the ban. What’s nice is there are more younger people and people from more diverse occupations.

“You’re able to ride across parts of the country you wouldn’t otherwise be able to cross.”

He said the youngest rider this year was a three-year-old on a lead rein pony who wore the jacket and boots her mother had worn as a child.