HUNT riders and supporters gathered across North Yorkshire for the second Boxing Day event since hunting with hounds was banned.

Hundreds of people, dogs and horses packed into Market Place, at Malton, for the annual parade before the Middleton Hunt rode out.

Other riders from the Middleton Hunt gathered in Driffield, and there were also meetings in Kirkbymoorside, Easingwold and Boroughbridge.

The supporters were among thousands from across the country who took part in the traditional festive ride almost two years since the Government's Hunting Act outlawed conventional hunting.

In Ryedale, more than 80 riders from the Middleton Hunt, their horses and hounds followed a pre-laid trail across the countryside - a legal alternative to killing foxes with dogs.

Joanna Newitt, secretary of Middleton Hunt, said she was "encouraged" by the number of people who turned out to the meeting.

She said: "It was the same as last year. There was a lot of good support, a lot of cheering as they left the Market Place. We said we will see them at the same time next year.

"The place was absolutely swamped. It was incredible. It was very good."

Mrs Newitt said hunters were determined to continue the annual event with the hope of pressurising the Government to repeal the ban.

"We are still there carrying on and keeping it going, so we can change the law," she said. "There was a lot of support from landowners and farmers.

"We can not do it without their support. They are our main supporters. We keep going, we are still running, and we have to do a lot of fundraising."

A group of animal rights campaigners held a silent protest in the Market Place, holding banners saying "People who hunt and shoot are traitors of the natural world".

The Sinnington Hunt met in nearby Kirkbymoorside, the York and Ainsty South Hunt met in Easingwold while its counterpart, the York and Ainsty North Hunt, met in Boroughbridge.

Amanda Welford, secretary of the York and Ainsty North Hunt, said: "It went very well. We got a tremendous amount of support, both mounted and from people on foot. We had a very good day."