Music to my ears yesterday. Hound music on the black coyote that Kim, Cheryl and Barbara viewed. And even better than that – much better – was Charlotte Wilson’s answer to my question at the end of yesterday’s hunt.
It was her first full hunt and she spent more than three hours in the saddle. I asked, “Well, what do you think?” With her great big smile and eyes sparkling, she answered, “I want to do this every day for the rest of my life!”
Parents Virginia and Robert Alan Wilson were thrilled, along with grandparents Glenn and Janet Wilson. I know that Daddy Boots and Mama Boots were smiling down on her from heaven when she said that.
Thanks to the Doziers, Field Masters Susan Saccone and Mollie Hall, and everyone else who has helped Charlotte get to this point. Thanks to everyone who helps juniors and adults to learn how to ride and hunt and experience the joy and fulfillment of this lifestyle, this special way to savor and take in God’s Most Wondrous Cathedral. Introducing juniors to foxhunting is an important part of our overall mission at Belle Meade Hunt. Master James and Master Pete Knox founded this hunt as a family hunt. We are the Belle Meade Family. It is our duty to carry that forward to each new generation.
Well Done Charlotte! Well Done Belle Meade!
Charlotte is 9 years old. That got me to thinking about what the Hunt was like when I was a kid. I was 9 when my father and Mr. Pete started Belle Meade Hunt.
My two best buddies in the Hunt were Martin Westmoreland, also 9, and Cousin Virginia Wilson, 11. Martin rode Lemmon, a wonderful horse with one bad habit – he loved to roll in every creek crossing, rain or shine, hot or cold. We had to wait for the horses in front of us to get all the way out of the crossing so that Martin and Lemmon could get a running start and try to make him go all the way out the other side before he could stop and roll in the creek. Sometimes it worked, but often it didn’t.
The old crossing on Maddocks Creek at the Boy Scout Cabin is named the Martin Westmoreland Memorial Crossing in honor of Martin and Lemmon. Martin holds the record for going swimming more than anyone else in the history of the Hunt.
Virginia rode Dixie, a nice chestnut mare that was purchased from Mr. Ray Smith, Mr. Bob Knox, Sr.’s farm manager, who at that time lived in what is now the Larry Knox Country Home where we have the Blessing of the Hounds ceremony.
The 3 of us rode in the back of the field, having a good time with not a care in the world, often completely unaware of our surroundings or landmarks. Master James rode over to us one day, annoyed that we were not paying attention to the landmarks. Wanting us to pay attention and start learning the territory, he quizzed me, “Where are y’all?”
I know he wanted me to name the nearest landmark, but I couldn’t, so I answered, “We are together!” Instantly, his whole demeanor changed. He cracked up laughing. He knew we were right, in our thinking at that age, at least. We were together with our best riding buddies and that was all that mattered to us!
The first Awards Night was held at the Knox Terrace Dining Room, where Nora’s Aunt Jean McMannon was the best cook in town. She served wonderful meals on fine china with sterling silver. That is where Nora learned to cook so well.
At that dinner, Martin and Virginia and I were named the Belle Meade Triumvirate. They gave us each a plaque. It is an early example of encouraging the juniors and their families, and that Belle Meade Family spirit continues today. Charlotte is just the latest on the nearly six-decades-long list of examples.