Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Blessing of the Hounds

I went down to Red Rock Ranch today for the Hunter Pace event, the beginning of their 33rd season, and the Blessing of the Hounds, a bizarre ritual.  I couldn't resist this picture of Gwen and Belle, mother and daughter participants.
There was a lot of milling around as horses were saddled and riders mounted.  Many of these thoroughbreds are so tall that mounting requires a stand.  These aren't your typical Western quarterhorses. 

Finally Angela calls for everyone to ride down for announce-
ments and final instructions.  She explains the division of the three fields in the event.  The red jackets are the Hunt Masters.

The Hunt Masters ride off to get the hounds and we go to the giant cotton-
wood tree to wait, in the shade.  Riders are milling around with horses pent up and ready for a ride.

We don't have to wait long.  They charge in and if you've ever heard a beagle, think of that times 50.  These dogs are excited.  They love the hunt and are as ready to go as the horses.

They are running as fast as they can go.  Their excitement is obvious, then Lynn, the Master of the Hunt, blows her horn.  It's the silliest tinny sound ever, but the dogs are trained to it.

They all return to her and then as a group, they come over the us under the tree.  From here on out, those dogs don't leave her.  It's like she has a dog magnet in her saddle.
This is Lynn's fan club.  She's devoted her life to her passion for the Hunt and after years of hard work, she has an event that fulfills her dream, a dream shared by her partners Gail and Angela.   This was the biggest field they've had.  Gail, an octogenarian, passed away earlier this year.  She would have loved today.
 The ritual Blessing of the Hounds begins.

The is the one who delivers the blessing.
This is "The Pope" also known as Pete Lazetich  who has come to irreverently confer a blessing on the hounds.  His wife made their costumes and also is his driver.  I don't know their connection to the Hunt other than they've done this for about a decade.
The entrance was more interesting than the actual blessing as I couldn't hear a word he said over the braying of the hounds.  They upstaged him!  It only lasted minutes and then riders started stripping off the formal ties and jackets.

And the Hunt has begun.  This is the third group, those who wanted to participate but not compete.  They nevertheless has a course to complete that will challenge them.

I came home, took another shower, and started a new book.  That's my Sunday story and I'm sticking to it.


Michelle said...

What fun, and who would guess such a thing would occur in the Nevada desert!?!

FWIW, I use a fence or stump or mounting block whenever possible regardless of the height of my mount, even though I am perfectly capable of mounting any horse from the ground. Torquing the hard saddle tree on a horse's easily injured back by putting all your weight in one stirrup is not good policy!

Laura said...

What Michelle said (about backs). I have mounted from a block for years because of my knees, and now dismount on a block as well. Even with short horses, it's just more comfortable for everyone!

I would love to come participate in that, but I don't think Tang would keep up, being the energy conserving beastie that she is! I'm not a confident jumper, and I don't know if she would or not (she steps on ground poles to prove a point with her big feet).

I love the "Pope" - how completely cool is that!