I grew up around horses in Maryland. My sister, Karen, loves them; we spent our family weekends heading off to horse shows, fox hunts, and pony club meetings. The scents of my childhood were the intermingled perfume of horse sweat, leather saddle soap, and freshly manufactured manure.
Ah. Good times.
Now retired, my sister spends her free time following horses and horse lovers with a camera. This weekend, she attended the opening day forThe Potomac Huntclub in Maryland and snapped a couple hundred pictures of what appears to have been a glorious autumn day.
Part of the opening hunt traditionally includes the Blessing of the Hounds. My sister was excited to report that the person doing the blessing this year was a deacon: Deacon David Cahoon, from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Barnesville, Maryland. (Some may remember him asthe deacon who built the altar for the papal visit.)
The Catholic Book of Blessings has blessings for almost everything, but I couldn’t find one explicitly for foxhounds.
Nonetheless, a little Googling turned up this elegant exhortation—which, I suspect, may be Anglican:
May the Lord bless and protect all people and animals involved in these hunts. May God’s love keep every one from harm. May no one come to serious harm from leap or fall, from rock or branch, from jump, stake, or fence. Preserve us, O God, from our own rash judgments and the exigencies of the chase, that you would maintain our health and safety, and would restore us to our loved ones, our familiar friends, and our accustomed places of duty in Your kingdom. May the “Divine Huntsman of our Souls” increase our love for others, our concern for the earth, and its creatures both wild and domestic, our stewardship of the environment God created for our use. We thank Thee, O Thou Great Jehovah, for imparting to mankind the ability to train animals, to enhance those qualities You build into the animal kingdom at creation. Divine Father, we bless Thee for giving mankind dominion over, and stewardly responsibility for, “All things bright and beautiful, all creature great and small, all beasts wise and wonderful, when You, O Lord, made them all. May Jehovah God bless these magnificent horses with strength to run swiftly, stamina to go the distance, with courage of heart, with noble but felicitous spirits, with the requisite physical agility to conquer every impediment, with grace to surmount every obstacle. By Your grace, may these hounds increase in physical fortitude: may they grow wise in the wily ways of our most worthy quarry’s to stay with the pack; obey the Master; and learn unerringly to follow Raynard’s spoor/scent. Bless our worthy quarry, the illustrious fox, with physical speed and endurance, with mental cunning, and with the heart to enjoy providing the best of sport for the hunt. In all these petitions, O Lord, we ask You to show Yourself sovereign, to display Your glory, and to accomplish your Divine purpose through us and in us. For the glory of your great Name, and the good of your people, we pray it, in the Name of God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One God, Over all, Blessed forever, Amen.
(If you’re looking for a great horse photographer, drop me a line! I have connections. )