Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Belle Meade Hunt

bellemeade

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.

Website: http://bellemeadehounds.com/

The first foxhound show in North America in three years, and Hillsboro Wagtail ’20 has good reason to wag her tail...er...stern!

shs22.wagtail.wendy butlerGrand Champion of Show is Hillsboro Wagtail 2020   /   Wendy Butler photo

The fourteenth annual Southern Hound Show was memorable for several reasons. Nigel Peel, Ex-MFH, North Cotswold Foxhounds (UK), was ill and unable to come and join Co-Judge Marion Thorne, MFH, Genesee Valley Hunt (NY) and Apprentice-Judge Steven Thomas, MFH, Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS). Ann Hughston, MBH, Ripshin Bassets (GA), who has judged foxhounds at Carolina, Virginia, the Canadian Hound Show, and Bassets at Peterborough, was a capable stand-in.

The mood was particularly festive as this was the first hound show in three years to be held in North America thanks to the Corona Virus. Sadly, Midland Fox Hounds (GA) had kennel cough and was unable to bring hounds, but eight packs showed hounds: Belle Meade Hunt (GA), Fox River Valley Hunt (IL), Goodwin Hounds (NC), Hillsboro Hounds (TN), Iroquois Hunt (KY), Live Oak Hounds (FL), Mooreland Hunt (AL), and Palm Beach Hounds (FL). Hounds competed under blue skies, but with chilly temperatures in the forties and low fifties and relentless high wind that made the seated lunch for over 150 people look like a food fight, with fried chicken, plates, napkins, and utensils flying through the air, all as the tent was trying to collapse!

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What follows is one of Master Epp Willson’s frequent email reports to Belle Meade members to recognize and thank individuals for efforts on behalf of the hunt, apprise members of current hunt affairs, or, as in this case, add to their knowledge of hounds and hunting.

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Belle Meade hounds drew well, handled well, and listened all day. They are settling in and becoming the team we expect them to be.

Our hounds provide quality sport nearly every time we go out. They are doing it every time if scenting conditions are decent and a cooperative coyote can be found. Yesterday was an interesting day.

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No, this is not a professional bridge-building crew on a typical workday. They’re Belle Meade foxhunters and family members, and they build, repair, and replace bridges in the Belle Meade hunting country on evenings and weekends.

Admittedly, they could be pros. After all, there are fifteen hunt-built bridges in the country. Each bridge has a name―they’re landmarks, after all―and staff members know the location of each and how to get there from wherever they happen to be.

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performance trial. mission valleyMission Valley 2018 Performance Trials: Fort Leavenworth Tracker 2010 (#71) was overall High Point foxhound after two days of hunting.  /  Allison Howell photo

The schedule of Foxhound Performance Trials for the 2021/2022 foxhunting season has been released by Trial Chairman Fred Berry, MFH, Sedgefield Hounds (NC). Nine qualifying trials will be run across the country, and the tenth and final trial will crown a Grand Champion and the top ten performance hounds in North America.

"'Pretty is as pretty does' really applies to foxhounds," says Fred. The Brits invented mounted foxhunting and hound show, but they shouldn’t have stopped there.

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Belle Meade huntsman Epp Wilson MFH and 8 year old Midland Maiden 2013Belle Meade huntsman Epp Wilson, MFH, and 8-year-old Midland Maiden 2013

Midland Fox Hounds (GA) has drafted a lot of fine hounds to us at the Belle Meade Hunt (GA) over the years. Most have worked out well for our country and our way of hunting. Most drafts are un-entered pups, but often they will draft an entered hound to us when they’ve had a large litter and find themselves with more of that bloodline than they need. That’s how we got Midland Maiden 2013, and she turned out to be one of the best hounds they ever sent us. She is so good, I think Mason may have some regret about having drafting her to us.

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