The blessing of the hounds

"Blessing? I was expecting a treat!"

We attended a fairly unique event Thanksgiving morning. It was the annual “Blessing of the Hounds” presented by the Farmington Hunt Club here in Charlottesville.  It sounded like a fun way to start the day and see a bit about a sport that was totally foreign to us. Fox hunting, which dates back to the 1500s, is more pageantry than anything else and that’s what we came to see. A large crowd gathers for the beginning of the hunt to see the “blessing.” Actually it is a blessing for all participants, canine, equine, human and, of course, the fox. So, if you want to see how the other half lives, come with me on an absolutely beautiful morning and see this gala affair.

The crowd begins to gather.

The hounds are kept a slight distance away until the horns sounds.

Oh look, there’s Newt Gingrich on the left. Who knew he was into leather?

Riders trying to qualify as members of the club wear orange vests until they have earned the true colors.

The heck with this, let’s eat.

You remember Arie Rijke, the huntmaster of the beagling club.

The club President escorting the minister to the “blessing.”

How’s this for an outdoor cathedral, Rev?

And they’re off to the hunt.

The foxhounds lead the way……

As the pack follows….

and soon they’re far afield.

“Quick, spread the word, there’s a hunt afoot!”

DISCLAIMER: We later learned that no foxes were caught or harmed during this hunt. Isn’t that always the way?