Blessing of the Green Mountain Hounds
Quiet Valley Farm
Sunday, September 22, 2015
Field Master Marten van Heuven
Good afternoon, and welcome to the blessing of the Green Mountain hounds
We are all impatient to get today's hunt under way. But at the start of the formal season it is appropriate to reflect for a few moments on the meaning of this traditional ceremony.
Last year, I ventured some thoughts about the meaning of blessing. I described the blessing as an act of shared thanksgiving. This year I want to focus on the hounds. Those of you who own dogs, or other animals, know how much they can be part of the family. And so it is with our fox hounds. Chapter 9 of the book of Genesis recounts a conversation between God and Noah, who had just survived the flood. God's promise was to establish a covenant with Noah and his descendants, and also "with every living creature that is with you, ----- and every animal of the earth."
Once a year, following tradition, we pause to express appreciation of our hounds. They are at the center of the sport of fox hunting. We attribute to them qualities to which we ourselves aspire. They possess a sense of purpose. They develop skills. They persevere. They express joy at their work. They take satisfaction from a good hunt, the way we take satisfaction from a job well done. We follow them as best we can in the hunt field. Our hounds aren't perfect, of course. Distractions can lead them astray. There is a reason "Dog bite field" acquired that designation. But, at bottom, we love our hounds and they love us.
This is also the occasion to acknowledge with appreciation our huntsman, Kate Selby, and her helpers. They have turned a group of individually minded fox hounds into a disciplined pack. Lining them up for a group photo remains a challenge, but we are working on it.
Now let us proceed to the blessing. As the custom of blessing the hounds has grown, it now typically includes all those who make the hunt possible.
We thank Thee for the beautiful fields and forests through with we hunt.
We ask Thy blessing of those who allow us to hunt on their land.
Bless those who ride the hunt; the staff and those who follow the hounds in the field. Keep them from harm to life and limb.
Bless our horses who faithfully carry their riders.
And, finally, bless these , the Green Mountain hounds, whose restless energy and joyful voices delight us all.
And may all who participate in this hunt today may return refreshed and renewed, in body and in spirit.
This concludes the ceremony.