WE woke up this morning in Middleburg, Virginia, to a white blanket of snow, perfect for the annual Christmas in Middleburg celebration that features the town’s Christmas parade. Or, rather, almost perfect. The snow hadn’t been forecast to start until noon, which would have been as the parade was ending, but instead it started early in the morning and had made roads slushy well before the parade–led by the Middleburg hounds every year–was due to start.
Traditionally, the hunt rides up a back road and into the parking lot behind Middleburg’s historic Red Fox Inn for a stirrup cup before moving off to lead the parade. We had chosen the lot to watch for the hunt, hoping for some good close-up video of the hunt’s tri-colored American hounds. There we waited. And waited. And waited, as the snowfall grew heavier. Eventually, it started sticking to our hats and coats until we resembled two houndblogging snowmen. Off in the distance, through the snowfall, we could dimly perceive horse shapes, but they seemed to be milling around rather than coming our way … and eventually, after about an hour, word came that the hunt, for safety’s sake, had decided to skip the ride up the slushy hill to the Red Fox stirrup cup and just start the parade from another point.
The houndbloggers sprang into action (okay, we more creaked stiffly into action, having been standing in the snow for quite some time, and sloshed off to find a new vantage point along the parade route) and were able to get a little video of the hounds as they passed by, looking a little chilly themselves. It was cheering to see how many spectators had come out to watch and how they enjoyed the view of the hounds, who are truly picturesque and quite different-looking from the largely English and crossbred pack at Iroquois.
The Middleburg Hunt has about 40 couple of American hounds, and the hunt itself has a very interesting history. The hunt was founded in 1906 after the Great Hound Match of 1905 drew significant attention (and hunting visitors from numerous other states) to the Middleburg area.
More on the Great Hound Match later this week! There is an ample supply of information on this curious event at the National Sporting Library, and we’ll touch on that here in a few days.
For now, we hope you enjoy the video and that it helps put you in the holiday spirit. The tail end of the video includes some caroling and a pretty four-in-hand carriage team.
After the hounds had passed, we spent a pleasant hour warming up over lunch at the Salamander Market before heading out to do some shopping (free hot cider and rum at the Highcliffe Clothiers! Hooray!).
We understand that some snow fell in Lexington, too, so we hope you’re all safe and cozy by your fires tonight!