Photos thanks to Eric Schneider.
Blessing of the Green Mountain Hounds
New Haven, Vermont
Sunday, September 17, 2017
Retired Field Master Marten van Heuven
Good morning and welcome to the blessing of the Green Mountain Hounds. The blessing dates back to medieval days when hunters believed that St. Hubert of Liege, the patron saint of hunters, could protect their hounds and horses, keeping them safe during the hunt. We observe the blessing as a ceremonial act of thanksgiving.
Today I want to highlight the hunt as seen by the hounds.
While hounds are dogs, not all dogs are foxhounds. Foxhounds are not all alike, as any huntsman will attest. As they grow into the sport of hunting, each hound will begin to show individual characteristics.
A foxhound lives its working life in a relatively short span. But what a life it is! It centers on the pack of its comrades. This is the setting where it acquires its habits and, eventually, its status. If a hound has any inclination to bond with a human, it is with the huntsman. But in essence the hound matures in the pack.
In their contact with humans, hounds tend to show warmth, even affection. But once on the scent they display an iron determination to find their quarry. When we hear “ware hound” it means we must give way to hounds that are passing us in the fast lane. In that mode, they come from behind with the speed and growl of a Ferrari that is insisting on a wide berth. But when they reach the end of the line, they revert to the quiet satisfaction of a job well done.
This ceremony is also the opportunity for us to express our appreciation to our huntsman, Kate Selby, and to her helpers. Their hard work throughout the year has created an award-winning pack of hounds. The New England hound competitions show the results.
Now on to the blessing.
We thank Thee for the beautiful fields and forests through which we hunt.
Bless those who allow us to hunt on their land.
Bless those who ride the hunt, the masters, 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.
Finally, bless these, our Green Mountain hounds, whose restless energy and joyful voices delight us all.
May all who participate in this hunt today return refreshed and renewed, in body and in spirit.
Bless our horses who dutifully carry their riders.
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 return refreshed and renewed, in body and in spirit.
This concludes the ceremony.