WHEN the Government banned fox hunting two years ago many thought the traditions of bright scarlet jackets, white jodhpurs, horns and horses may be in danger of dying out.

Even those involved in the controversial country pursuit feared their traditions were in jeopardy.

But more young people took part in yesterday's New Forest Boxing Day Hunt compared to previous years as organisers announced their sport is enjoying a revival.

The New Forest Hounds, like many hunts across the country, thought their numbers would dwindle when the government banned fox hunting two years ago.

But in fact the reverse is true with a greater proportion of people aged under 21 getting involved in the sport and membership numbers holding strong.

The New Forest Hounds now train their dogs to follow a scent that is laid down by hand before the chase starts.

Graham Ferris, joint secretary of the New Forest Hounds, said that trail hunting was easier than fox hunting and more appealing to younger riders.

"We certainly have a huge number of younger people under the age of 21 with us. There has been a significant increase in the number of young people supporting hunting which is good news for the future."

He said that the overall membership of the New Forest Hounds, which includes hundreds of life members, was at least at the same level as when the Hunting Act was passed.

However he said that members would like to see the act repealed.

The association yesterday kept up 900 years of tradition in the New Forest with their annual Boxing Day hunt.

Hundreds watched the spectacle of 60 smartly suited horse riders accompanied by 23 hounds as they set off from the Balmer Lawn Hotel for the trail hunt.

The Boxing Day Hunt was one of 314 that took place across the country yesterday nationwide as the Masters of Foxhounds Association reported strong support for hunts.