Belle Meade Hunt Performance Trial: February 25 & 26, 2011
As riders emerged from the woods onto Quaker road, so much steam was rising from their horses it was as if a dense fog had suddenly fallen on the crisp Georgia morning. Just moments before, the hounds had crossed the same road at full cry heading southeast. Quaker Road is a sunken through-way built by original Quaker settlers in the 18th century and today serves as a main north-south artery that connects much of the vast Belle Meade hunt country to a spider web of trails that crisscross pine groves, hay fields, creeks (that sometimes seem more like rivers) and even a daunting ravine known as the “Grand Canyon” that would be more familiar to those living in the Appalachians than in East Central Georgia.
We galloped north on Quaker Road then east onto the shoulder of paved Wrightsboro Road and finally ran parallel to the line on the north flank. Through the woods, in the distance, we could see and hear the hounds working. The music was beautiful and the energy in the air was palpable. Then suddenly a call came over the radio to pull the hounds up. Once again deer had been spotted on the line and the Huntsman (Charles Montgomery of Live Oak) and Performance Trial president (Nelson Gunnell of Middleburg, Virgina) made the call to stop the hounds, re-group and cast again. It was a frustrating moment that illustrated the challenge of managing a fair and competitive performance trial.