Confession time...I've lived in my town for 23 years and in the next town over for 22 years before moving to Wenham. That makes 45 years of being in this community and never once, before this year, have I attended the Myopia Fox and Hound Hunt on Thanksgiving day, until this year. As a neighbor one would have thought I would have gone, but as a photographer I really should have been there much sooner.
It was a cold, crisp day, sunless this year. Yes, we had to park a little bit away from the field and oh yes, we had to climb over one of the stone walls, that line the country roads here in our area, before entering and climbing a hill to the field to emerg at the part of Appleton Farms where this most elegant of events was taking place. As we came upon the rise of the hill we were greeted by so many lovely horses, manes in braids and being held quite nicely by their riders. Then the elders in their red riding jackets and velvet helmets met us and the contrast between the bright red and the late fall colors was astonishing. A picture perfect moment. Of course, you know the best was being ups so close to the hound dogs...so well behaved by their handler and just waiting for the sense of smell that would take them flying over the fields and stone walls, hoping for a victory with that fox. Alas, that would not happen as here in Hamilton, there is no longer a fox leading the way...but a scent is planted and they blindly run still chasing the scent and of course, barking like crazy all the way.
So this year, I just took it all in...snapped away and never knew how cold I really was until we started walking back across the field. What I did know though is that I wanted to share a few shots with all of you. It's an unusual event for those of you who don't live in horse country so please come along for the ride with me. Liam took lessons at Myopia for 3 years and Jaxson will start next year. I would love if one day they would ride in this event...maybe after they see the photo's, they will give it a try.
The open field...that one arrives at after going over the stone wall..The riders and horses just milling with the crowd for about 30 minutes before the hunt starts. The horses are friendly and you are encouraged to pat them and take photo's if you like.
There were some awards being given out. Some members were being given their colors but I don't know what that means yet...The three riders on horses here make sure the hounds stay where they belong and the Master of the hounds was giving them little treats...
Very beautiful Hounds and so well behaved. I think they have a very good existence down at the Myopia club. They have their own house and a huge yard. When Liam was having a lesson I would go over and visit them but then they would start barking like crazy so I never got close. I didn't want to get the boot from the care-taker.
The Master of the Hounds getting the dogs to come into formation as they are starting to get ready for the Hunt...which, by the way, is a two and a half hour romp through the woods.
I have no idea who these gentlemen are but I do think they have some importance because of their attire. Perhaps they were former Masters of the hounds...I'll find out next time I go to Myopia...but I do think they look quite elegant and a bit British in their red jackets with the brass buttons.
There are two groups of riders...the jumpers and the non-jumpers. These young ones are part of the group that are non-jumpers and they ride behind the jumpers...keeping some distance. Perhaps more for show. I'm not sure. This group was mostly young girls and boys but obviously have been riding for a long time...very lovely to watch and I love how they have braided their horses also.
The Master and the Hounds..are in position to lead the hunt..several of the dogs are trying to pick up the scent.
They are off and running...it took me quite by surprise how fast they were going. It was hard to keep up with them when they rounded the corner.
This is part of the route and when the riders get to this low fence they have to, of course, jump it...which the Master did quite well here, immediately after this jump is a very narrow foot path and then a higher fence that needs to be jumped. I have to tell you it was very exciting...
Up and over again...so beautiful to watch...
Last in the line of jumpers...and as hard as the rider tried...this big guy said no thank you to that jump..first time galloping right up to the fence and a quick stop. She circled him around twice more but he was not having any part of that jumping...so off they trotted into the woods...
It was a wonderful morning. We left right after the jumper above. By that time it was getting colder and the threat of rain was very real. There was so much more that I could have posted. So much more I need to learn. So much more investigating to do. I can say though, for sure, that this will be become a Thanksgiving tradition for Jim and I and hopefully the boys in the years to follow. I learned a lot about my town, and about a group of people that I knew very little about. The horses I'm more familiar with because I do spend time shooting at Myopia, especially when I take the boys there. I'v also learned about dress code, tailgating code and where the best viewing spot is for that. I've learned I better be faster with my settings when those horses and dogs come flying by and I've also learned to bring gloves and a hat next year. The most important lesson for me though, was to learn it's o.k. to go...just go. People will come, dinner will be served and clean up will happen. The day won't fall apart because we take several hours for ourselves, doing something we love that really is a gift to us from our town. How lovely of those who participate and dress and regale us with the great outdoors and majestic animals. Flying through the woods in a place that we get to call Home...
"Hunting is our music, it is our poetry, it is our art, it is our pleasure. It is where many of our best friendships are made, it is our community. It is our whole way of life. "
To learn more about the art of the Fox and Hounds...please feel free to visit this web-page. It's a lovely page...for photographers in New England.