Blessing of the hounds was blessed with a beautiful day

Blessing of the hounds
The last of the fall colors glowed in the warm sunshine. Photo by Suzanne Adams

On Saturday our hunt held its annual Blessing of the Hounds ceremony. This practice, which was brought to America in the 17th century dates back to the century and to celebrations associated with St. Hubert, the Patron saint of hunting.

At the ceremony the hounds, the riders and the horses are blessed in hopes of a safe and fruitful hunt season. Since we don’t hunt live game (we are a drag hunt), we all settle for the safety portion of prayer.

This year we were blessed with a warm, fall day replete with golden sunshine. Although many of the fall colors have faded there were just enough to add a golden glow to the ceremony. It didn’t hurt that were in one of the most beautiful spots in Concord, Mass. Minutes from the Minuteman National Park and the Old North Bridge, this is a scenic view that people have enjoyed for hundreds of years.

Zelda in the hunt field
Zelda is proving herself in the hunt field. She obviously enjoys it! Photo by Suzanne Adams.

This was a joint meet with one of the other New England Hunt clubs and the turnout was fantastic. We had more than 40 horse and rider teams and the pageantry of scarlet and black, coupled with the various hues of the horses, was splendid. This was a day that made you glad to live in New England!

It was a fabulous and long hunt — we were out for nearly four hours! I decided to bring Zelda as she had been so good when I hunted her on Tuesday and she didn’t take a step wrong. This horse already loves to hunt. While she can be naughty at home, she is all business in the hunt field, provided you don’t ask her to lead the field. At least for now, Zelda is happier being a follower.

I did put her to the test though. Up until Saturday I’ve been riding her in the hilltopping field, which is typically a smaller field that moves at a slower pace. After starting her off there for the first cast, I movedĀ  her up to the “pick and choose” jumping field where she got to stretch her legs and gallop in some big open fields. Luckily for me she behaved beautifully and while there is a lot of momentum when she gets rolling, she never got out of hand. I even jumped her over a few small jumps and she was very rateable.

This was the longest I’ve had her out and she learned an important lesson: conserve energy! She was one tired horse when we got back to the trailer.

Blessing of the hounds
The bagpipe player led the field to the blessing ceremony. You can get a sense for the size of the meet from this photo. Photo by Suzanne Adams.
The whips kept the hounds in check.
The whips kept the hounds in check. Photo by Suzanne Adams.
Our staff by the pond.
Waiting for the first cast. Photo by Suzanne Adams
Our staff by the pond.
Our staff by the pond waiting for the hounds.
Hacking to the cast.
Hacking to the next cast. We hunted four pieces on Saturday covering a lot of territory.

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