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Wilson considers Belle Meade horses, hounds, trails part of her family

Before I left for college in Texas earlier this summer, Cousin Buck Clary gave a nice little speech after a barbecue party at Foxboro. It seemed good then, but since then has grown to mean so much to me. He talked about roots and about how the Watsons and the Wilsons have a tradition of coming home to continue their families closest to those roots. As most of you know, there are more than just a few of us around, so his point was definitely valid and well taken. In not quite so many words, it seemed like he was telling me that I had to come back because that was the only thing a good family member would do. In hindsight, that was not what he meant, but he was right either way. I am so proud of my home and my family, but home is not Foxboro or Thomson, and my family is not just Watsons, Wilsons, Lahsers extended. Home and family are one and the same and family is made of everyone you love.

Belle Meade Hunt is my family. The horses, the hounds, the trails, the fields, the bogs, and most of all, the people. Everyone. I keep finding myself contemplating how I am going to accomplish my goals here in Texas, and what, exactly, those goals are. The "what" question is easy. I don't care how, but I want all of us to be able to continue foxhunting. I want generations to come to be able to experience the same thrill of running a coyote, racing back and forth up the same trail 15 times when the hounds are really pushing him, peering through branch-whipped eyes at the faces of all the people I care about just as ecstatic as I am to be where we are, and knowing that there is not anything in the world any of us would rather be doing. I want Natalie, Megan and Sutton to be able to bring their kids out and feel just as proud as I know their parents do. I do not want to be the last generation who knows what it feels like to have your toes actively freezing off in funny-looking boots and then completely forgetting about it when the hounds begin to speak. The opportunity, family and machine we have at Belle Meade are priceless. No where else in the world is quite like it. As a Junior, I really love getting to ride with my daddy and wear scarlet. I am amazed at all of the things our whips know and do, young and old, and I am amazed by the way that all those who survive are there for similar reasons. Looking back while on a run and seeing mud-splattered, grinning faces just a getting-it wherever we are going makes me so happy I end up with bugs in my teeth.

I think that it says a lot about Belle Meade that we have so many repeat visitors. We run their legs off, scare them out of their wits, and beat them up pretty well sometimes, and they keep coming back for more. I have heard it said that foxhunting is a disease or an addiction and I think that at Belle Meade that is particularly true. Daddy told me that they were going hunting Labor Day morning, and I started to tear up because I was so sad to miss it. People drive hours and make innumerable sacrifices to be able to participate. Sure seems pretty crazy to me.For some reason, one of my favorite parts of the day is riding in with everyone. Speaking or not, great run or not, its true family time. All of our Whips that have been kind enough to let me ride with them through the years and many of our field members mean more to me than any other adults in my life besides my parents. Belle Meade and everyone in it truly are my family, and I would not give that up for the world. A great deal of my life has been spent with this family so dear to me that it's no great surprise that I have so many memories of cramming in the tack room in the old barn eating Chex Mix and huddling around the "Buns Warmer," playing under the stairs while waiting for dinner to be ready or just to stop getting stepped on inside, sitting in front of the tack room with everyone after a work day and praying for someone to cut the watermelon, and climbing decibel levels as my bedtime passed. I also remember countless hours spent at the Bowdre-Rees-Knox House creeping around, gobbling food, climbing trees, exploring, and all the while waiting for a ghost to float around the corner when I was not looking. I have yet to meet someone outside of Belle Meade with similar experiences.

Belle Meade is my family, my life, and a major defining force in who I am today. I love each and every one of you and hope that everyone can see just how awesome what we have really is. Thank you for being a part of the Belle Meade Family. Every person makes a difference and that is what makes us special.

Cousin Buck was right about roots. I can see why one would want to return to this kind of home. I can also see why so many of my preceding family members have passed up more high-falootin' lifestyles in order to run family businesses or just be here. I can not imagine a better childhood than I had, and I want to make those same opportunities available for generations to come like my family before me did for my generation. Between Belle Meade and Thomson, I cannot promise I will rush home, but I will always carry home with me and try to share some of what we have gotten right with the world.



Web posted on Thursday, November 3, 2005











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