The Blessing of the Hounds

Saint Hubert
Saint Hubert is the patron saint of hunters.

Last week our hunt held the annual Blessing of the Hounds, an even that takes place at the beginning of the formal season each fall. We are a non denominational. This year, the blessing was performed by an Anglican priest; the last two years we were blessed by a native American Shaman. It’s a lovely ceremony that underscores how grateful we all our to have

The Blessing of the Hounds ceremony is thought to have begun over a thousand years ago, inspired by the story of Saint Hubert (Hubert of Leige) who experienced an epiphany when hunting on Good Friday. Riding over a ridge, he encountered a vision of a stag with a cross suspended from on top of his antlers.

The stag commanded Hubert to give up his life of sin and drunkenness and dedicate his life to the praise and honor of God.  Which, of course, he did — founding a monastery. However, remaining a hunter at his core, St. Hubert bred and raised a type of hunting do that is believed to be the foundation of our current hunting hounds. Hubert was later proclaimed by the Church as the Patron Saint of Hunters.

Hubert was later proclaimed by the Church as the Patron Saint of Hunters and the Blessing of the Hounds honors his memory. It’s a tradition at many hunts to hand out a medal with St. Hubert’s image on it as a talisman of protection.

Our Blessing of the Hounds was blessed with picture perfect fall weather. We have held the Blessing at one of our most beautiful territories the past few years and again this year — the backdrop of a fall foliage and the pond is just spectacular.

The hounds must have know they were blessed because they were spot on the scent and very vocal.

This hunt is particularly fun because of the jumps. There are a whole series of cross country jumps along the main trail that range from small logs to some fairly substantial walls and plank fences.

I hadn’t jumped all the fences out there since I lost Kroni but this time I let Freedom jump everything. The past few hunts he’s really started to focus on the fences and listen. In fact, at the hunt before this one he got very annoyed when I didn’t let him jump one of the bigger coops!

So this time I let him go. He was a rock star and just flew over the fences. He looked at one of them but only hesitated for a minute. He even did the drop fences. What made me very happy was that when I asked him to add a stride he did it without complaint. That’s something he couldn’t do until very recently.

I left the hunt with a grin from ear to ear. And I’m leaving that St. Hubert’s medal on my jacket for the rest of the season!

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