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  • Writer's pictureKendra DeKay

A Thanksgiving Tradition: The Blessing of The Hounds Aiken, SC

Held on Thanksgiving morning, the Blessing of the Hounds is one of my favorite holiday traditions here in Aiken! Spectators park & walk into Hitchcock Woods and proceed to Memorial Gate. There a priest in full regalia waits under the fall colors with the Master of Hounds tending a pack of foxhounds. The horses and riders come dressed in their best jackets with horses groomed and shining. A traditional blessing is said for the hunt season, and the riders and hounds head off to begin their hunt. It’s a special thing to witness, and feels like a step back in time!

It marks the opening of the Aiken Hounds formal hunt season. The Aiken Hounds is a “drag” foxhunt (meaning the scent is dragged in advance so that the hounds have a pre-planned route to follow, and no foxes are actually hunted). In this equestrian sport, horses and riders follow the hounds, enjoying the sport and camaraderie of riding with friends across the countryside and through the woods, often at speed, navigating the terrain and jumping fences along the way.

The Blessing of the Hounds is held on Thanksgiving day (Nov 23, 2023) at 9 am at Memorial Gate in Hitchcock Woods. It is free and open to spectators.

I hope to see you there!

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