This is often justified as a means of bringing rural communities together, but why would this be necessary?
Traditionally rich and poor met at church and celebrated local events such as Christmas and the bringing in of the harvest. Landowners ensured their peasants did not starve and in return the commoners payed their rents and followed them in battle. Before the Reformation legacies were left for the poor often as food, in return the poor prayed for the souls of their benefactors , establishing a virtuous cycle of behaviour.
A large group of people on horseback has always seemed an inefficient way to control foxes. Surely a man with a dog and a gun would be better. The practice has evolved a whole range of rituals with horns blown, and the involvement of beaters and supporters. There also seems to be little or no correlation between the hunts and problems with foxes which makes the practice a curious one. Some sources claim it was to train the cavalry but why involve whole communities? Also curious is that the huntis also thoroughly English.
Some sources claim it was to help cavalry stay fit but it seems more likely fox hunting was an attempt to bring landlords back into contact with locals. This is relevant today as many of our national leaders have lost contact with the electorate. Their campaigns do not rely on party membership so they are not listening to them.
The outfits point to its origin: the mid to late 18th century when major changes were afoot in the countryside. Great houses provided full time employment for many locals and the wealthy served on vestries and as local justices and mps.
But from the mid century wealth from the colonies meant many estates were bought by people with colonial wealth. Enclosures acts expanded their land, driving locals to towns in search of work. They were often mobile, visiting London and spas so had little or no local connections or commitments to locals. This further drove the flight from the countryside, leaving an increasingly aged and infirm community in greater need of landlords support. Rents were only part of their incomes so they gave little in return. This is why so many vicars became magistrates and Justices of the Peace.
I have discovered that fox hunting happened in Europe. It was banned in Germany on 1934. British foxes were hunted to near extinction. But then hunts began importing foxes from France, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden!