Between the elegant traditions, the action and nature’s vibrant color palate, the sport of fox hunting is a photographer’s dream come true. Elena Maas shares some images from Georgia’s Belle Meade and Bear Creek hunt clubs.
Since moving to Georgia in October of 2013, I have been introduced to an entire new world of horseback riding and adventure. The ladies I have met have taken me under their wing and have broadened my horizon, especially when it comes to the sport of fox hunting.
I have ridden in smaller hunts myself, which is quite a rush of adrenaline at 8 a.m. on a cold day in the beginning of fall. When the big opening hunts come around in the fall, I choose to ride the Tally Ho Wagon equipped with my camera and ready to shoot when hounds, steeds and riders fly past me.
The first big opening hunt that I attended was the Belle Meade Hunt in Thomson, Georgia, about one and a half hours from Atlanta. Upon arriving at the Belle Meade Hunt Stables, you see lines of tractors and trucks, pulling trailers, ready for people to hop on with coolers, snacks, and blankets.
The blessing of the hounds is quite an experience. Hundreds of spectators, horsemen and women, horses and hounds become quiet until the hunt is officially opened. The riders mount their steeds while spectators climb the Tally Ho Wagons and the all-day adventure through fields, mud, woods and across dirt roads begins.
The beauty about sitting on the back of the Tally Ho, especially for a photographer, are all the colors that come together. You have the hunters wearing their beige breeches, the beautiful coats, the stock ties and pins, and boots, along with magnificently, beautifully and perfectly groomed horses in all shapes and colors, and of course the large pack of hounds (don’t ever dare calling them ‘dogs’, experienced hunters will enlighten you to never call them anything but ‘hounds’) galloping through fields and woods marked by the turning leaves of the fall.