Yesterday was the 36th Opening Meet of the Cloudline Hounds, and I was fortunate enough to be there for all the action! While I did not snap a single picture during the day, there was a photographer on hand, and pictures will be posted as soon as they are made available.
It had been 3 weeks since Jeff & I had gone hunting, and I was feeling a bit nervous about the jumping again and trying to just not think of it. I know if I keep my mind off of it and just RIDE my horse, then he will take care of the work. When the stirrup cup came round, I was thankful for the “shot of courage”, though I chose a smaller portion as I’ve just come off of a 40 day fast from alcohol. There was quite a nip in the air and a frost in the fields, but the sherry quickly warmed me up and my mind was quickly diverted from the upcoming action to the festivities at hand.
The Blessing of the Hounds is definitely my favorite Church service of all. I spent my youngest childhood years in the Catholic Church, but had never been to, or even heard of, a Blessing of the Animals service. Since last year’s Blessing of the Hounds, I have read about other Blessing of the Animals ceremonies, held inside cathedrals, that people bring all sorts of animals to. Some might think such ceremonies silly, but it touches me deeply to see people coming together in agreement for the safety and well-being of the creatures that God has given us dominion over. God tells us that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16b) How can we pray fervently for animals if we have no passion for them? Passionate people (made righteous only through the love and acceptance of Christ) uniting and passionately praying for their animals, DOES avail much, in the earthly realm and in the spiritual. Of this I have no doubt. Some of those praying during The Blessing of the Hounds may not be very passionate. Some may simply recite the responsive reading and have no care over the words that leave their mouths. I do not know, nor can I know. However, I do know that I think on those words and I mean them when I say them, and I KNOW that God is there while I say them because I know that I am not alone… I KNOW that there may be some who have no care, but there is at least one more who cares deeply, and God tells me that “for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Well, this wasn’t meant to become a sermon! However, I AM passionate about animals, and I sure do love my God, and I am so very thankful to be able to celebrate this passion with like-minded folks.
As it turned out, we had a terrific hunt and I managed to keep my seat throughout the day! I felt a bit rusty when we first headed out, as it had been a few weeks since I’d jumped, and indeed I had a bit of a bobble at the first coop… we were headed into the bright morning sun and I must have been looking down to save my eyes. Saving my eyes nearly lost me my seat! I fell a bit forward and conked my head on The Shaggadellic Beastie Boy’s neck, but managed to right myself and stay on. After that I was certain to remind myself to LOOK UP at each coop! And, sure enough, that was just the fix I needed to make all the rest of my jumping efforts smooth and easy, though the one picture of us over a coop looks a bit snobbish from how far up I was looking! haha
My horse stopped at the largest coop, but with only two riders behind us, the end of the line wasn’t far and I was able to quickly smooch him over, as he had no desire to be left behind! At the Bloody Jump – a pile of telephone poles – I stayed behind with my instructor as she replaced the wire over the top to keep cows from getting out. We took off at a brisk trot, following the tracks of the field through the woods. As it turned out, they were old tracks and we had gone right when we should’ve gone left! Once we lost any sign of tracks, we stopped to listen and took off in a mad dash through the open, trying desperately to catch up without getting in the way! Once breaking over a hill, we pulled up to listen yet again, fearing we would get in front of the hounds. Catching sight of the Master, we saw that she was pointing away from us, though moving slowly, so we eased along the fence line till we found the coop they had all just gone over. It was different from the rest… painted tan, with a white rectangle. My immediate thought was “will he jump or refuse because it’s different?” I started to get a bit nervous, but told myself to put it out of my mind, follow my instructor and LOOK UP! And sure enough, he jumped it as if he’d jumped it a thousand times before. I am so proud of my Beastie Boy! This is all very new to him, yet he acts as if it’s all old hat to him.
We caught up with the field at a pond on the other side of the coop. The hounds were taking a well-deserved rest, and I was able to watch them play in the pond as I nipped on something delicious in the Field Master’s flask. At that point, I was also able to catch up with my other handsome fellas, Jeff & Chancey, and find out how “The Chancey Man” was doing in Second Flight. I am thrilled to see him working out so well for Jeff! And equally thrilled to have found Cloudline Hounds, who has a NEW WEBSITE, by the way!!! Check it out at www.cloudline.info and join us for some wonderful hunting!