HUNTING WITH HORSES AND HOUNDS
The Woodbrook Hunt Club, located next to Joint Base Lewis McChord, hosted the Washington Regency Society on Saturday, November 3, 2018. The event featured a plethora of activities surrounding a formal “fox” hunt with beautiful horses, ponies, and one very nice mule. The day started with members of our group serving the traditional stirrup cup to the riders. What a nice way for us to meet these delightful people and their mounts. A bagpiper followed, calling all attendees together for the Blessing of the Hounds. This included blessings for hounds, riders, and even observers. It is a traditional service based in Church of England history. As it turned out, the day was St. Hubert’s Day. St. Hubert is the traditional patron saint of hunts and hunting. The riders were given a St. Hubert’s medal to wear as they rode into the field.
After the Blessing of the Hounds, we got to meet the hounds. These beautiful animals all wore radio transmitters to ensure their safe return. We learned that these are highly trained hunters and not the pets we are used to at home. They soon got to work, leading the way into the territory adjacent to the stables and kennels. They were following a scent laid down by the “foxes” – people running ahead of the hounds spraying a scent. No foxes or any other animal are hunted, hramed or killed.
We followed the hounds and all the riders (including some side-saddle riders) into the field In unhistorical SUV’s and trucks. Some of the group continued to caravan off following the whole event while other members stopped in a large field and enjoyed a lovely tea offered by one of our members. The hunt eventually returned to the large field where tea was served at the end of their adventures in the woods and open areas. Thanks to JBLM, permission had been granted to hunt on their land. As the hounds and then the riders and horses came to the end of the hunt, they too enjoyed some tea.
Upon return from the hunt both groups relished a hearty Hunt Breakfast which was a joint effort by the Woodbrook Hunt Club and the Washington Regency Society. Ham, turkey, roast vegetables, fruit salad, vegetable quiches, and ham rolls were topped off with homemade Engli8sh style trifles. The Hunt Breakfast was served at 2 pm in the afternoon which replicates what often happened in the regency period.
The costumes worn by our members were memorable. A lot of work had gone into a variety of ladies’ riding habits as well as beautiful pelisses, and weather resistant hats. The military look of ladies’ riding attire of the period was very evident in many toilettes. The group included a number of very well attired gentlemen as well, featuring elegant leather boots, coats and other period correct attire.
We learned about hunting traditions of the regency to the modern day, period riding attire, the vocabulary of fox hunting based in English tradition, and even the food associated with a post-hunt breakfast. A very pleasant time was had by all and we enjoyed sharing our costumes and traditions with a group of very gracious and welcoming Woodbrook Hunt Club members and their guests. We learned a lot and we think they might have as well.