Blessing of the Aiken Hounds
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 prove themselves as outstanding members. Master Linda McLean usually distributes colors after the hound blessing.
Tomorrow’s weather forecast is severe clear with patchy frost, warming up to the low 60’s by afternoon. Spectators need to give themselves at least 30 minutes to walk (the only option) from the South Boundary Entrance, a great way to observe Aiken’s fall colors at their peak. As you are hitting the trail in the late morning’s crisp air with the sun permeating your body, try to imagine the extraordinary effort by riders and staff that were up at the crack of dawn to make all of this happen. This does explain and justify the importance of carrying a flask. There are wonderful photo ops, but please stay behind the taped section for your safety as well as the riders and horses.
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.