Thanksgiving traditions

Before this trip, all my experience of foxhunting in America has been either during cubbing or after our English season is over, in late February or early March.  As such, I have never before experienced the spectacle of a Thanksgiving meet.

At home in England, I am used to the big Boxing Day meets: boozing on a packed Priddy Green with the Mendip Farmers’ or crowds holding up the cars in Castle Cary, waiting for hounds to move off.  But what I experienced at the Blue Ridge’s Thanksgiving meet at historic Long Branch was something else.

Jerry ‘tiny’ Rivers, Blue Ridge stalwart and hunting expert Norman Fine and Chairman Robin Duncan at the meet, with Long Branch house just visible.

The trestle table was heaving with ham biscuits to be handed round, hundreds of supporters and subscribers were served hot port and cider, and milled around on the lawn.  All this went on for a good while before anyone even thought of getting on their horses, and even when hounds had moved off, looking back at the meet from the second covert, I could see 100 or so people still at the meet, enjoying the party.  Many come for the social occasion and then hurry back to cook Thanksgiving dinner and wait for the mounted followers to come home.

The other remarkable difference from home is the SUNSHINE! If the Blue Ridge mountains don’t feel far enough from Somerset, the beautiful weather really makes you feel a way from home.  Some shook their heads, fearing for poor scenting conditions, but hounds tried hard and ran well all day – they must like it too!

Moving off from the meet – unlike in England, many more American subscribers who have earned their colours wear red coats on these big occasions, some wear them every day.

Nancy Kleck is a sporting artist who has taken to car following with the Blue Ridge Hunt. Come rain or shine, Nancy is a permanent fixture in the back of the truck, always well wrapped up, and takes some beautiful pictures, seen above, some of which she uses to inspire her professional work www.EquineSportingArt.com .


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Please note, throughout our website we use the term fox hunting to mean all of the activities carried out by our participating hunts operating within the constraints of the Hunting Act 2004.