Lucy J. Bell loves it when she can get out of her law office and ride her horse.
Better yet, the Thomson lawyer likes it even better when she gets an opportunity to hunt either coyotes or foxes at the Belle Meade Fox Hunt. In recent years, she has hunted both out-of-state, as well as out-of-country.
"I honestly love this sport," said Miss Bell, whose past hunts have taken her to northern Virginia and to the countries of Wales (2000) and Ireland (2001). "I've been interested in horses all of my life."
She discovered the unique blend between riding horses and hunting after she was introduced to the sport of fox hunting by the late James E. Wilson, one of the co-founders of the Belle Meade Fox Hunt near Thomson.
Miss Bell recalled meeting Mr. Wilson, his wife, Ruth, and one of their sons, Epp, while visiting the opening ceremonies of the 1993 Belle Meade Fox Hunt.
"I remember that time so well," said Miss Bell. "They were getting ready for the equestrian trials at Pinetop Farm for the 1996 Olympics that were held in Atlanta. I had a great time there. People were so nice and friendly to me. The Wilson family really treated me like I was one of them -- not an outsider. I'll never forget how nice every one of them treated me and how they introduced me to so many people that I now consider friends."
About a year later, Miss Bell decided to resign her position as an assistant district attorney within the Northern Judicial Circuit in Hartwell, Ga., and moved to McDuffie County.
"I think it was one of the best decisions of my life," said Miss Bell. "I love this area and the people. It was the hunt that brought me here and I've never had any regrets."
After her move, she opened her private law office, known as the Law Office of Lucy J. Bell.
Today, her office is located in Carriage Lane in Thomson, space that she leases from Charlie Lewis, who is an active member of the Belle Meade Fox Hunt.
She mostly is involved in defending clients accused of various crimes. In addition, she also assists her brother, Lloyd Bell, in personal injury cases at his law office in Atlanta, where Miss Bell is from originally.
Miss Bell is a 1990 graduate of Cumberland Law School in Birmingham, Ala. Following law school, she became an assistant district attorney with the Waycross Judicial Circuit in Waycross, Ga. She worked there for 21/2 years before accepting a similar job in Hartwell, where she worked and lived for about a year.
Miss Bell now lives on 30 acres near Thomson and owns six former race horses -- one of the oldest of those horses, Showtime , is 17.
"It's a real time commitment," said Miss Bell, noting that it sometimes becomes difficult to juggle her workload at the office and tend to such chores as feeding her horses, etc.
Even though her life sometimes is hectic, she admitted she wouldn't trade it.
"I truly love my life and all of the things I get to do," said Miss Bell. "God has richly blessed me."
She has been fascinated with horses since she was a little girl "around 2 or 3." Her strong love for horses, cats and dogs, however, never spilled over to her four siblings.
"I've just always loved animals and wanted a lot of them," added Miss Bell. "I believe I have enough of them now, though."
The Thomson lawyer said she can't explain where her love for riding horses and hunting came from unless it was handed down from her great aunt, the late Charlotte Noland, who lived and hunted in northern Virginia.
"I had to have gotten my love for this sport from her, because nobody else in my family has ever been interested," explained Miss Bell. "She was real big into fox hunting. It's my understanding from family that she once met Queen Elizabeth. That must have really been something special."
Miss Bell said participating in the Belle Meade Fox Hunt for the past several years, where she serves as a whipper-in to Huntsman Epp Wilson, "has been a thrilling and most rewarding adventure. It's great being out in the woods on a hunt, seeing the countryside up close and being surrounded by so many wonderful people. It's so relaxing."