Blessing of the Aiken Hounds
November 28 At 11:00AM The Blessing of the Aiken Hounds has been a well attended tradition for many years and is open to the public. It takes place prior to Aiken Hounds Opening Meet at Memorial Gate in the Hitchcock Woods every Thanksgiving Day. Horses and Riders are turned out in their formal attire; which is taken very seriously: Horses clipped and manes braided, riders in their best hunt coats and stock ties with polished boots. There will be people donning “pink coats” (red) signifying their rank as a Hunt Master, green coats identifying Aiken Hounds staff and black and navy coats worn by the hunt members. There will be a number of members from various hunt clubs, which can be identified with the color of their collars. Members of various hunts earn their “colors” when they have proven themselves as outstanding members. Master Linda McLean usually distributes colors after the hound blessing.
Horsemen and hounds prefer wet and cool weather to prevent the dragged fox scent from scattering off course. Spectators need to give themselves at least 30 minutes to walk (the only option) from the South Boundary Entrance. The fall colors are usually at their peak. Observe the extraordinary effort by riders and staff that were up at the crack of dawn to prepare for this special ceremony. There are wonderful photo ops, but please stay behind the taped section for your safety as well as the riders and horses.
This is certainly a “must do” event that just may turn into an annual tradtion.
TALLY HO and HAPPY THANKSGIVING
Article and photos: Nancy Bruen Smith – former member of the Aiken Hounds for 8 years, earning her colors in 2011.