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 for The Potomac Hunt club 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 as the 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
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. )
All photos by Karen Kandra Wenzel