A BRITISH hunts woman who lashed saboteurs with her riding crop had been provoked by balaclava-clad “hooligans”, her husband has claimed.
Richard Goring, 79, spoke out after his wife Jane Miller, 56, was caught on film in a clash with anti-hunt activists.
He said they had injured her horse and wrongly targeted her because she was not fox hunting.
Mr Goring said Miss Miller was taking part in the legal sport of drag hunting instead – where hunters chase the scent trail of a fox but not the animal.
The sport was introduced into the UK in 2005 when fox hunting was banned.
Footage released by anti-hunt activists showed her screaming “Get off my horse” as she lashed out at a masked man who had grabbed hold of her bridle.
Police have since launched an investigation into the confrontation between saboteurs and the East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt Club in the UK.
Mr Goring said his wife had been trying to protect a young boy surrounded by 20 masked men on the hunt.
When she tried to disperse the saboteurs one apparently grabbed hold of her reins and would not let go – leaving her horse bleeding from the mouth.
Mr Goring added: “This guy knows nothing about horses, he knows nothing about how to treat them. All he knows about is how to be a hooligan. Anybody would have done the same thing in that situation.
“Jane told them ‘Get off my horse’ and then she got out her stick and whipped him.
“The anti-hunt movement before the ban said “Well, why don’t people go drag hunting rather than fox hunting? And I agree and so does Jane.
“Who wants to go fox hunting? I don’t want to and Jane doesn’t want to. To be honest, I far prefer drag hunting, it’s a brilliant sport. We don’t need to go hunting foxes.
“The activists don’t even need to be there – no one’s doing anything illegal.”
Footage released by Brighton Hunt Saboteurs shows the hunts woman riding toward the saboteurs, shouting at them: “Get back to the road.”
As another masked saboteur rushes in front of the horse and grabs hold of the bridle, Miss Miller yells “Get off my horse, get off my horse” as she whips him.
He hanged on to the bridle trying to shield his face, while warning the rider to stop using the animal “as a weapon”.
The saboteur is finally pushed away by a hunt steward who shouted: “Get off the ****ing horse. Don’t grab ****ing horses.”
Mr Goring said the incident happened when a young boy on a pony couldn’t jump a fence and was surrounded by saboteurs.
He added: “He was surrounded by 20 saboteurs, all with balaclavas, and he was on his own.
“You see these guys all stood round in balaclavas, what do you do? Do you stand there? Do you run away? It’s bloody frightening – particularly if you’re a woman.
“After the incident, the horse’s mouth was ruined. He had grabbed hold of the reins and, when Jane got off, the horse’s mouth was bleeding.
The pro-hunting Countryside Alliance said that hunts are “plagued by balaclava-clad activists who intimidate and harass hunt supporters and landowners”.
A spokesman for South Coast Hunt Saboteurs said: “A rider intervened riding her horse at sabs until one grabbed the bridle in self-defence, which then resulted in a flurry of blows to the sab’s head and arms with her whip. She rode away only to come back and try it all again.”