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A Class Act: the story of a hunt sab

August 8th, 2010 · post by Fred Goodsell · 2 Comments

My first encounter with hunting was way back in my teens, working as a barmaid at a snooty silver service hotel. I took the Saturday morning shift, eager to fill my pockets with the extra £3.50 an hour. I remember it being fucking freezing, picking my way through the puddled car park wearing stupidly high heels, short skirt and a white blouse. Despite the drizzling rain I wasn’t allowed to keep my coat on, shivery arms holding up a tray of drinks to the young farmers on horseback. None of the ungrateful bastards said thank you.

Twenty years on and it’s still fucking freezing, and I’m still passing round drinks, though I’ve graduated to a flask of red hot Rooibos to calm the nerves and stomachs in the back of the sab van. I am no-ones slave now and there’s a real sense of something different.

The Hunt’s will tell you that we get paid for this but we do not. No-one in the Hunt Saboteurs Association takes a wage. Unlike their rigid hierarchy of posts from the Master, to the whipper in, and even the bloody gate closers, we work collectively, jobs shared, decisions by committee. Our aim is to stop the killing and torture that goes with this barbaric sport and we will continue to sab the bastards till it does.

There is no doubt that Hunting is a class issue. Way back in the 1980’s some clever boffin worked out that the average fox cost over ten grand to kill by hunting – that’s some serious money for their claim of pest control. It’s not just the average £50 a week ‘cap’ money, it’s the horse itself, all those years of riding lessons, the horse box, the land, the seriously unfashionable clothes. We, the poor, are permitted to watch this weekly charade, but if your names not double barrelled or featured on the Magna Carter, your not getting in.

Our Sab group has a slightly more ‘open door’ policy. Whilst field sabs require a certain level of fitness, our fund-raisers and supporters come in all shapes and sizes and are afforded equal respect. Despite going out together for many long days in the mud, I must confess I don’t really know anyone’s surname. It’s not something we ask.

Despite the mass of public opinion, despite the majority vote of our ‘elected members’, despite the ban, a small group of the elitist rich decided that they would not obey a law they didn’t like. Kids on my estate do that every weekend with every spliff, every under-age can of Magners and every joyride but they feel the full consequences of the law. The Hunt are beyond the law. This country has a tradition of letting the rich and powerful do exactly as they please and hunting is no exception. The police will not, and do not act. Sabbing uses direct action to hold these people accountable.

What we do works. We piss them off. We disrupt their day. We spoil their fun. We stop their kill. Their anger and frustration is clear, and that they too see this as a class war is clear, with shouts of ‘get back to your council estate’ and ‘why is my tax paying for you to sit on the dole?’.

Where the class war starts, the gender struggle is never usually far behind and that is also true with hunting. There is only one female ‘Master’ of the hunt, and whilst the ‘ladies’ are encouraged to ride out, they are rarely afforded any of the important jobs. Our group is a fairly even mix, much to the bemusement of the hunt. One copper nearly dropped his notebook in horror when he realised that the high voice behind the mask he was harassing was that of a female. “Do they really let girls do this?”… yes mate, they really do, although according to the hunt what we need is a good shagging or not to be touched with a ten foot barge pole.

Sabbing for me is anarchy in action – it’s respecting experience and knowledge, it’s not giving or taking orders, it’s fighting a gross injustice and it’s taking back a tiny bit of what should be free, one fox at a time.

By Louise,
West Yorkshire Hunt Sabs.

For more information about what Sabbing entails, and how we do it, look at the Hunt Sabs Association website’s tactics section –

West Yorkshire Hunt Sabs are currently appealing for donations, to raise money for our own Landrover.
This would enable us to get 12 more sabs in to the action (doubling Yorkshire’s current seat count) and would give us extra mobility and a tactical advantage.

It costs £9 a head to get people to sab with the Sheffield group, so we can’t afford not to get this Landrover.
Find more information, check our progress (on our landy’o'meter) and donate at

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2 responses so far

  • Heidi posted:
    Aug 8, 2010 at 8:02 pm. Comment #1

    It warms my heart that sabs have the power to ruin the jaunty days out of these horrific people, I am currently waiting to hear back from my local sabs about helping out but in the meantime I support your cause 100%

  • Lyn Pollard posted:
    Oct 26, 2011 at 2:16 am. Comment #2

    I am a little puzzled about sabs… Are they against the fox hunt? Or are they against only the elitists hunting the fox? If they were out to protect the animals from the horrendous and barbaric hunt, then I would side with them; however, if all they are doing is playing sour grapes and, “if I can’t play I’m taking my ball home”, then I am so against them. I would really like a clear answer, please.