HUNTS were out in force in Dorset as hounds and riders gathered for a series of traditional Boxing Day meets.

Among those taking to the saddle were members of the South Dorset Hunt, who assembled at Dorset County Showground in Dorchester before moving off for the event.

Hunt treasurer Major Reg Hanbury said: "It was nice to see everyone together and we set off along trails which had previously been laid for the event.

"More trails were laid throughout the day, on what was a successful meet."

Sir Stephen Hammick, former chairman of the Cattistock hunt and former hunt master, attended the Boxing Day meet in Powerstock.

He said that everybody had a good time.

He added: "It was a huge meet with a huge number of people turning up for it. We never stopped galloping all day."

Members of the Cattistock and South Dorset hunts were among hundreds of thousands of people who attended Boxing Day hunts across the country.

Hunt campaigners from the Countryside Alliance said around 250,000 people would turn out to 314 hunts taking place around the country on what is traditionally the busiest day in the hunting calendar.

Former hunt saboteur, Neil, claimed that some hunts were disregarding the Hunting Act and using traditional methods.

He said the onus was on anti-hunt campaigners to provide evidence of illegal activity to the police and said that could be hard to do.

A spokesman for Dorset Police said there were no reports of trouble at any hunts taking place in South West Dorset on Boxing Day.

The 2004 Hunting Act made hunting with dogs a criminal offence - although exercising hounds, chasing a scent trail and flushing out foxes to be shot are all still legal activities.

Anti-hunt campaign group the League Against Cruel Sports said it did not object to the Boxing Day hunts if they stayed within the law but they would be monitoring any illegal activity.