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Thumbs up for draghunting on TG4
25 August 2006

Draghunting, the humane alternative to foxhunting, has this week been given a major thumbs up on TG4s An Tuath Nua programme. Heralded as the future for blood sports groups, the activity was not only praised for being animal-friendly but also because participants are guaranteed a good run, good jumps and great fun during every outing.

In contrast to foxhunting, the route of a draghunt is pre-planned to ensure that riders are given a challenging and pacey course to run. No such guarantees exist in foxhunting with its disjointed, stop-and-start routine - hounds can lose the scent and, when a fox is killed, they have to spend time finding another to terrorise; this invariably means a lot of hanging around for followers.

Fionnuala Ní Chíobháin of the South Leitrim Harriers Draghunt explained on the An Tuath Nua programme that the scent spread across the countryside is made from linseed oil, paraffin oil and urine.

"The hounds follow this scent and the horses follow the hounds," she said. "Everything is pre-planned; the route is pre-ordained. We know exactly where well be jumping and running. Its easier to have a better day as we know well have some good jumps and itll be safe. We know where were going and everyone is promised a great day as its good running, jumping and fun!

Members of the "hunt" interviewed on the programme praised draghunting as being:

  • A great social outlet which is popular with people of all ages and from all backgrounds

  • More acceptable to the farmers who allow access to their land - the route of the draghunt can be tailored to take into account the wishes of landowners.

  • A lot faster and fluid compared to hunting animals

  • Great fun with a variety of challenging jumps
With so much in its favour and a high level of acceptance among the public, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports has no doubt that draghunting is the future for hunting in Ireland. It's a view shared by draghunt participants who have seen interest in the activity rising.

"I suppose many Irish hunts will go down this [draghunting] route," commented Fionnuala Ní Chíobháin on An Tuath Nua. "Its growing all the time as its safe and were not bothering any foxes or animals. Youre promised a good run, some good jumps and great fun every time you go out."

Images: Draghunt scenes from An Tuath Nua

Horseback rider dragging scent along the ground
A scene from An Tuath Nua showing the scent being laid across the countryside. To maintain a level of unpredictability, the route of the scent can be kept secret from the main group of horseback followers. (Image: TG4's An Tuath Nua)

Draghunt follower on horseback jumping over stone wall
Draghunting offers followers lots of challenging jumps during a fast and exciting cross-country ride. In contrast to foxhunts, the draghunt only comes on to land where permission has been granted. (Image: TG4's An Tuath Nua)

Hounds running across field
Hounds enthusiastically following the scent during a draghunt. Existing foxhunts sometimes engage in draghunting (as a way to exercise hounds or in addition to their blood sport activities), thus proving that a transition from cruelty to compassion is easily arranged and the same hounds can be used. (Image: TG4's An Tuath Nua)

Foot followers at drag hunt
Draghunting attracts a loyal following of people of all ages and from all backgrounds. With its animal-friendly nature, interest in the activity is growing all the time. (Image: TG4's An Tuath Nua)

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