Tuesday, December 26, 2017

On Boxing Day

A Connecticut Hunt - Photo by Salt Water New England
Capturing a family member's recount of hunts in Concord, Massachusetts from decades back:
I was a member of the Old North Bridge Hunt Club.  I was in charge of caring for the hounds.  
We "hunted" on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. The hunts were "Drag" hunts, meaning that a person would head out to the woods around 5am, trailing a rag soaked in "fox urine"... so that the hounds would have a scent to follow...  (YOWLING) away! 
The "order" of the hunt: The "Master of the Hounds" followed directly behind the Hounds and wore a red jacket. In our case, the "Master" of the Hounds was a woman.  "Whips", wearing red jackets and carrying long whips, would be the first out, alongside of the Hounds.  Of course, in our case, the actual "whips" were used mainly as props.   
To follow would be the "high jumpers" the riders who would jump the biggest, highest jumps along the route.  Some of these "jumps" would be stone walls (New England), fallen trees, etc. ..rather intimidating! 
Of course, there would always be a route around the jumps as well as smaller jumps for the less experienced (or for the ponies)!  (Some of the "jumps" would actually be ditches)!  The "Flats" would follow at the end, navigating a route around every obstacle. 
The BIGGEST challenge were the BEES!  If one were to be riding at the "end" of the line, the "exclamation" of "BEEEEEEEEEEEES"!!!!!!! Could strike terror in even the most experienced rider!  By the time the "rear" of the line reached the fallen beehive... were those bees FURIOUS!!!!!  
STING, STING, STING!!!!!!  Bucking, rearing horses!!!  Fallen riders!!!  Quite a mess!  (Not to mention the bee stings)! 
 A "tea" would follow the event.  On Tuesdays, the "Tea" would be informal.  Most folks would turn up after taking care of their horse, wearing their riding garb.  The Saturday "Teas" were somewhat of a more formal occasion.  Some of the riders would change into "civilian" clothes prior to attending. 
THEN there is the annual Hunt Ball!!!  QUITE an extravagant event.  A true "Ball", formal clothing, a dinner, an orchestra, etc.. 
Earning one's "Colors" is a special occasion.  I "earned" my colors at some point. I still have my hunting jacket.  The gold buttons have the image of a hound jumping over a fence (Old North Bridge Hounds) and green felt rims the collar. 
The "Hunter Trials", occurring once a year, was a HUGE event, involving tests of endurance and ability. 
VERY good memories.  
Old North Bridge, Concord, Massachusetts - Photo by Salt Walter New England

20 comments:

  1. Wondering what became of this hunt club?

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  2. Thanks. I didn't know there were hunts in Concord. I went to school down the street from the bridge.

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  3. Love the story and the photo. Thank you.

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  4. It's such pretty country, it must be wonderful to see. Thanks for this and all your posts.

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  5. Great story...love the behind the scenes detail! ARH

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  6. The google tells me The Old North Bridge Hunt Club is alive and well, if it's the same Hunt as the Old North Bridge Hounds! It also appears you can observe the Hunt on foot.

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  7. So disappointed to see such a cruel act such as fox hunting featured on this website.

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    1. Agreed....isn't that a relic of the past that should be long gone by now?

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    2. Fox hunting is completely foreign to me, but I don't like cruelty. Where is it, exactly? I just reread and am confused by your comment.

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    3. First of all the old north bridge hunt is a drag hunt meaning they just lay out a scent and chase it for the sake of chasing it. Secondly no hunt in the US kills foxes, it's illegal and inhumane.

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    4. Even if they don't kill the fox, terrorizing foxes by chasing him or her is cruel. Not sure why anyone would enjoy stressing out a poor animal.

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  8. This is a drag hunt. The role of the fox is played by a mixture of anise and vegetable oils laid along the trail.

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    1. Someday, maybe wars will be done like this. A drag war. Not sure what scent you would drag around, though.

      Aiken

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    2. @Aiken - what does peace smell like? :)

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    3. That’s a great question, and easy, Patsy. The scent of peace would be of that first really warm, late spring day in the mountains, when the alpine flowers are blooming through the thin dust of pollen, and the scent of fresh, springtime pine is in the air …

      But, that's me. I’ll bet each person’s scent of peace would be different (e.g., I know at least one who would say it’s the scent of pot!). What does peace smell like to you, Patsy?

      As an aside, the point I was trying to make above is that if we can make an inhumane activity like the fox hunt more humane with a drag hunt, why not do something similar with human wars?

      Call me crazy,
      Aiken

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    4. Lol at pot! Peace would be something with vanilla, I think. And lilac. And lavender. Pine, too! So many........

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  9. Love the photo and narrative. Always amazed at different points of view that seem somewhat selectively PC, for lack of better a word. The next time we cheer on say, our football athletes, think of CTE and the scores of young people that are urged to emulate these sports heroes, and targeted groups for whom professional football was/is offered by our civilized humane society as one of the viable, financially-supported, applauded paths out of their socio-economic predicament. Relative to this, I will take a hunt happily anytime.

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  10. B Block are you a vegetarian? I am and I am also a foxhunter.

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  11. Actually, Anonymous 5:36, quite a bit of the food served at my table is either game or fish, but vegetarians are welcome too.

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  12. Concord, my hometown. Born, nurtured and raised there until at 22 adulthood and gainful employment took me elsewhere. So much that is good in me was created there. The Bridge, the Concord Free Public Library, Reverend Tuck Gilbert, a thousand special places and people.

    Now fast approaching old age, I look back and wonder is it my youth or the town that I miss? They are so inextricably intertwined that I cannot separate the two. I miss them both. Thank you to our hostess for this lovely time machine.

    The Concord Diaspora

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