“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!” Hmm… that may be? Yet at Red Rock Hounds (NV) some retired hounds regularly teach folks all about the thrill of the chase, and living life with zest! It began several years back. Whenever Red Rock Hounds founder and Master Lynn Lloyd rode out from her kennel to hunt with her eager pack, she would pass by the “retired run” and feel a real pang of regret at having to leave behind so many of her trusted old friends.
Red Rock Hounds' seasoned senior, Ulysses, waits for the signal from huntsman Paulette Schneider. Photo by Nancy Stevens-Brown.
Lloyd heard in their mournful cries and saw in their eyes that the drive and fire for hunting still burned bright, even though these “pensioned” pups could no longer hold an intense pace, or stay the course over the countless high-desert miles that they once so effortlessly covered. At last Lloyd had an epiphany! Perhaps a “special” hunt featuring only these tried and true ol’ hounds, hunting at easier fixtures, would be a happy answer to their sad pleas.
Since Master Lloyd already conducted three hunts a week, she recruited experienced whipper-in Paulette Schneider to escort this newly envisioned fourth field on “Senior Saturday." It quickly became apparent that a hunt with these resolute veteran hounds was the perfect introduction for anyone new to the sport, or for someone seeking an easier pace, or anyone trying to introduce a horse to the always-lively hunt scene. Senior Saturday rapidly became popular for being a low-key, yet memorable way to experience the thrill of foxhunting. Since these well-seasoned hounds were all very experienced, despite their slower and more deliberate pace, their teamwork and maturity often led everyone on a very merry chase. Lloyd's Senior Saturday brainchild at was a success!
Schneider soon developed a deep admiration for these oldies, recognizing how “sincere” they were! She revels in their committed steady approach, their inherited drive, well-honed skill, earnestness and keen focus on tracking their quarry. The senior hounds are slower and cover shorter distances, so their focus, drive and work ethic are more easily revealed to the hunt riders. Because of this, Schneider, like her mentor Lloyd, enjoys every opportunity she gets to help educate her field on what to look for in a well-disciplined pack.
The senior hunts also allow the kennel master regular opportunities to introduce a novice pup into a pack of steady elders, who then initiate the green newbie in the art of being a “real” true-blue Red Rock hound. So, though foxhunting can be an unpredictable sport, the one thing that is predictable every Senior Saturday is the contagious delight that these time-proven, retired and clever hounds share with anyone who follows them. These old dogs teach by example that no one is ever too old to have passion, purpose and joy!