The Belle Meade Hunt was whelped by a group of horsemen who had been meeting for regular trail rides. Their usual route from Stagecoach Road took them to the Rock Dam and finally to the Boy Scout Cabin, where they often stayed for a cookout and sometimes an overnight and homeward ride in the morning. These are familiar landmarks to anyone who has visited and enjoyed the hunting at Belle Meade.
The organizational meeting to establish the hunt was held in August of 1966 at the home of James E. Wilson, Jr in Thomson, Georgia at the behest of William Preston Smith. Mr. Smith suggested the name Belle Meade after his family home in Virginia and suggested that Confederate Cavalry yellow be adopted as the hunt’s colors. Mr. Smith also designed the Hunt’s emblem. Mr. Wilson was elected president.
My timing was perfect. With Bull Run March Madness now history, I managed to hunt Saturday, go to work on Sunday, and get sick on Monday. During the days before we left for Virginia, with my nerves activated by a recent snow, my anxiety focused on the fear that I would get sick before, or even worse, during our trip. So I am very content to be sneezing and stuffy now. Worse thing is hubby Rick is also now sick. Sicker than me. He is always sicker than me, even if he has the same thing. But this time he really is sick.
Before the trip, my field hunter Ozzy had recently recovered from a bacterial infection, but not before having lost some weight. Not being a good traveler, I did not want him to lose any more weight. So my pale, borderline pony Frankie was pressed into service for this trip. After picking up Mary’s mare Spyder, Mary followed me in her car to our staging area in the Walmart parking lot. Alas, no one thought to grab ourselves a quick Starbucks for the road ahead of time. Traveling solo, Trish’s horse was rocking her trailer, so we moved out pronto. Our four trailers would caravan to Virginia from there following Mary in her car. Mary needed to head home a few days early to put on a bridal shower so she had to drive separately. It is a pretty straightforward trip to the Funny Farm in Reva, Virginia. Plus we have done it before. As the convoy rolled along I was struck again with how beautiful this part of Virginia is. During our trip every time the mountains came into view we would point and exclaim, “Look, a mountain!” Reminding us why we come here.
Jefferson "Tot" Goodwin whipped-in to Ben Hardaway for over twenty years, then in 1989 became huntsman of the Green Creek Hounds (SC). He’s the only black MFH in America. From a new book, Foxhunters Speak (The Derrydale Press, 2017), here is one of fifty interviews conducted by the author, Mary Kalergis.
Mary will be signing her books at the Virginia Foxhound Show in the Foxhunting Life booth. Come visit!
My granddaddy and dad always hunted dogs, and I started hunting the beagles every weekend when I was about eight years old. Now my granddaddy was a horseman. He used to break and train horses right outside of Columbus, Georgia. He died before I was old enough to really ride, so as a kid, I never had the opportunity to ride any nice horses. My parents had mules that plowed the farm. As a little boy, I never heard of mounted foxhunting. We hunted coons, rabbit, and deer on foot and ate everything we caught. There were sixteen kids in my family, so we never wasted any food.
Cross Gate Gallery (Lexington) has curated a one-man exhibition of paintings by renowned sporting artist Larry Dodd Wheeler at the Willcox Hotel in Aiken, SC. The Opening Reception was held on Feb 24, 2017, and the paintings will hang through April 14.
The Willcox Hotel is a popular Aiken meeting place for horsepeople of many disciplines---foxhunting, eventing, racing, and polo---and Larry Wheeler's art should find an enthusiastic audience there. Members and hunting visitors from the Aiken Hounds (SC), Whiskey Road Foxhounds (SC), Why Worry Hounds (SC), and Belle Meade Hunt (GA) are seen at the Willcox throughout the season for cocktails and dinner and especially on Hunt Nights (Tuesdays).
David Twiggs was officially confirmed as the MFHA’s new Executive Director.Tony Leahy, MFH of the Fox River Valley Hunt (IL), was elected to a three-year term as President of the Masters of Foxhounds Association at the Annual Meeting held on Friday, January 27, 2017 in New York. Leslie Rhett Crosby, MFH, Mooreland Hunt (AL) was elected First Vice President and Penny Denegre, MFH, Middleburg Hunt (VA) was elected Second Vice President. Also,
Retiring Executive Director Dennis Foster will remain at the office for another two months to complete David’s training. Upon his official retirement, Dennis will continue to assist the MFHA in animal rights and other areas, on a consulting basis.
I had the distinct honor of addressing the Annual Meeting crowd, the largest crowd I have ever seen, to relate how special David and his family are, and to explain President Leahy’s vision for an upcoming season of celebration. It was literally standing room only.
Bull Run’s Spree was the top scoring foxhound in the Belle Meade Hunt Foxhound Performance Trials held in Thomson, Georgia on January 20 and 21, 2017. Of thirty-six hounds competing, Spree won three of the four scoring categories: Hunting, Trailing, and Endurance. In the Full Cry category, he was second.* His combined score led the field in points.
Six foxhounds from each of six hunts competed—Belle Meade Hunt (GA), Bridlespur Hunt (MO), Bull Run Hunt (VA), Farmington Hunt (VA), Fox River Valley Hunt (IL), and Mill Creek Hunt (IL). The three top scoring hunts, based on the combined scores of their hounds from first to third, were: Bull Run, Fox River Valley, and Belle Meade.
Trial Huntsman Sam Clifton was called upon during the award ceremonies to announce his choice—the hound he’d most like to take back to his own kennels. Huntsman’s Choice is an honorary award and receives no official prize, but, as in past trials, Sam’s reasoning for his personal choice was worth hearing.