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Chula Homa Opening Meet


By Allison Crews

The Chula Homa Hunt hosted its thirty-seventh annual Opening Meet and Blessing of the Hounds at the home of Mr. and Mrs. David McGowan on November 9, 2019 in Brandon, Mississippi. Approximately 45 riders and 200 guests, from Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Louisiana, attended. Janice Clemons and Ginna McGowan co-chaired this event.

Hunt festivities began with a catered breakfast and silent auction. Masters and staff then gathered the hounds for the Blessing and stirrup cup. Reverend Juan Chavajay of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, Miss. was the Officiant for the Blessing of the Hounds.

Beattie Williams, MFH and huntsman, took out five couple of hounds for the day’s hunt. Once the hounds were cast, spectators followed on Tally-Ho wagons to experience the hunt. Garrett Gilbert, 11, from Brandon, Miss. viewed the hunted gray fox from the Tally Ho wagon as it gave the pack the slip.

Foxhunting has existed in North America since Colonial days and was enjoyed extensively by night hunters, farmers, and landed gentry. The earliest record of imported hounds was on June 30, 1650, when Robert Brooke arrived in Maryland with his family and pack.

The earliest surviving record of American foxhunting is for the pack instituted by Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax in 1747 in northern Virginia. Records about early hunting come from letters written by Lord Fairfax and the diaries of George Washington. Washington was an ardent foxhunter who owned his own pack of hounds. Washington's diaries are laced with frequent references to foxhunts. On one occasion while Congress was in session, hounds ran near the Capitol. Many congressmen ran outside to watch hounds and some jumped on their horses and joined the chase.

 Hunting gear has changed little since foxhunting began and is based on practicality. Black leather boots, breeches, heavy or light hunting coat, a shirt with a tie or stock tie and a protective hat are essential. Heavy boots and breeches protect riders from branches and brambles. The Melton wool coats are warm and almost waterproof. A stock tie, fastened with a plain gold safety pin, can serve as a bandage for man, hound, or horse in case of an accident.

Galloping over the countryside on a fine horse flying his fences well is a thrill for anyone! Today’s hunters have special permission to ride over private and public land, which still constitutes magnificent open spaces. No group of individuals is more aware of this privilege, nor more outspoken in their desire to protect quarry and to preserve their environment.

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