HUNT supporters met on Boxing Day, but did not head out for the fields and open countryside.

The ice and snow made it too dangerous for hounds and horses to engage in the traditional Christmas sporting occasion.

But that did not stop some hunt members turning out for their big outdoor social occasion of the hunting season.

Many foot supporters turned out to wish them well – which was appreciated by the riders who attended.

Joanna Hewitt, of the Middleton Hunt, said: “We did have a good time and we had our usual collection for the hunt staff.”

The nine riders who joined her made sure they and their horses looked their best for the occasion.

They started their morning in Malton’s Market Place before moving on to the Old Lodge Hotel; Old Malton; and an old people’s home, their traditional four Boxing Day stops.

Members of the Countryside Alliance said this year’s Boxing Day meets may have been the last under the Hunting Act 2004, which banned the hunting of wild animals with hounds.

They hope a Conservative Government will repeal the act, and allow foxes to be hunting once again.

But Annajoy David, Labour’s choice to contest the Scarborough and Whitby seat in the next General Election, said the next Government will have more important issues to deal with. She helped to launch a national campaign on Boxing Day to support the ban.

At the same time, John Rolls, of the RSPCA said: “The Hunting Act has never been about stopping the activity of riding to hounds in the countryside – it was to prevent wild animals being chased and killed for sport.”

He revealed figures showing that 48 people were convicted of offences under the act in 2007, more than eight times the number under other animal protection acts.