We arrived at the riding school on a bright summer's morning, Sandra, Melissa and myself, Kate. We're all instructors at the school but we had no pupil appointments that day because the local hunt was meeting, and we were riding with it. In England, horse riding and fox hunting are so intertwined that not riding to hounds would cut us off from most of our business contacts.
 Sandra was driving a Landrover and I had my old Landcruiser because we needed to tow two horseboxes to take our three horses to the hunt rendezvous. Nothing had seemed unusual until we opened the stable door. Inside, hanging from the wooden beams, was a long banner with hand painted red lettering on it: "THE LEAGUE AGAINST BLOOD SPORTS".
 "What the hell is that doing here?" Sandra had demanded angrily. Tall, strong, and always the dominant one, she led us inside the stables.
 We all knew about the league. They're violently opposed to fox hunting and game bird shooting. We also knew they'd been active around the district for a while, mainly spreading false scents for the hounds during the hunts. That wasn't something which bothered us personally, but what had upset us was finding some tripwires tied between trees where the fake scents had been laid. It seemed strange behavior for so-called animal lovers to set traps to kill and injure our horses, let alone the people riding them.
 So that was why Sandra was so concerned about finding the banner in our stables. It wasn't the league's attitudes towards fox hunting which worried us, it was the fanatical and dangerous lengths some of them were going to in promoting their cause. If the ones who had broken into our stables overnight were as plain nutty as the wire riggers there was no telling what damage they might have done. But somehow it never occurred to us that maybe they hadn't gone away after putting up their banner. I suppose we were too concerned about what might have happened to our horses.
 It wasn't until we were well inside the stables that we realized our mistake. Somebody shouted out, the top and bottom doors of the nearest loose boxes were thrown open and a whole crowd of people came charging out, each of their faces hidden by a party mask shaped like a fox's head and all of them wearing identical blue overalls as if it was a kind of uniform. They looked -- and acted -- like a bunch of bank robbers working to a pre-arranged plan. As they surrounded us they grabbed our arms, dragging us towards the tack room. I could hear Sandra shouting with anger and Melissa squealing as well, but none of our assailants took any notice.
 It seemed there were perhaps eight or nine of them altogether. Most of them were males, young strong ones, but at least two of the blue overalls were also covering what were obviously girls' bodies, though they seemed to be holding onto us just as tightly as the boys were. At any event the three of us were completely surprised and overwhelmed by the totally unexpected assault. It just seemed so organized that it was unbelievable -- right down to the odd fact that each of the overalls had a number painted on the front and back, numbers which seemed to have been put on with the same paint and brush used to write the banner.
 We were pushed and shoved towards a big table which had been moved to the middle of the room and now had some horse blankets spread out on top of it. The gang clearly intended we should bend over the table, but we finally started resisting as much as we could. Sandra was making the most determined efforts to get loose, aided by her height and strength. She's almost six foot tall, a horsewoman so good and so athletic she has a genuine chance of riding in the next Olympics.
 One of the men, taller even than Sandra, appeared beside her and did something which made her yelp.
 "Bend over you stubborn bitch" he snarled. Sandra whimpered and then leaned forward over the table without the slightest sign of any further struggle.