On Saturday, November 21, Jeremy, Gabe, and I had the pleasure of attending the Blessing of the Hounds with the Woodford Hounds at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill (wow, that was a mouth full). The Blessing of the Hounds is a centuries-old tradition that was believed to have begun by the now Patron Saint of Hunters, St. Hubert. The Blessing is a tradition among many hunt clubs, and there are several held throughout Kentucky, typically during the month of November near the date of the Feast of Saint Hubert.
St. Hubertus (or Hubert) was considered by many to be the first to propose ethical hunting. The legend says that a crucifix appeared between the antlers of a large stag and Hubertus heard the voice of the Lord. He was told that if he didn’t turn to God, that he would go to hell. The legend goes on to state that he was told to never kill a female deer with young, to make kills quick and clean, and to aim to shoot aged animals instead of youth. The legend is still taught in several European hunter education courses.
The blessing bestowed by the clergy can vary slightly by region, but generally something like this is recited:
“Hear our humble prayer, O God, for all animals, especially those in whose companionship we find joy and health. We entreat for them Thy mercy and pity, and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion, gentle hands and kindly words. Make us all to be true friends of animals and so share in the blessings of the merciful, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Bless, O Lord, rider and horse, and hounds that run, in their running, and shield them from danger to life and limb.
May Thy children who ride, and Thy creatures who carry, come to the close of the day unhurt and give thanks to Thee with grateful hearts.
Bless those over whose lands we hunt, and grant that no deed or omission of ours may cause them hurt or trouble.
Bless the foxes who partake in the chase, that they may run straight and true and may find their destiny in Thee.
Bless the hounds to our use and their joyful part in Thy service.
O God, who of Thy love sanctifieth all things by Thy Word, pour down Thy mercy upon these Thy servants, their horses and their hounds; to all who shall take part in the hunt, grant protection of body and soul; make us all ever mindful of, and responsive to, the needs of others that the spirit of true sportsmanship may prevail in all that we do; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The dress code for riders participating in the event is very strict, and the event itself is full of pomp and circumstance. The bright red coats, beautifully groomed horses, and the blossoming young equestrians make this a must-see event.
You can see a small gallery of my images from the event by scrolling through the top box on this page, and check out the Woodford Hounds and Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill websites for the date and time of next year’s event.