Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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joan batterton.beacon rock.1986Field Master Joan Batterton, Opening Meet, 1986, on her homebred North American Field Champion Beacon RockJoan Batterton, one of the finest Field Masters I have ever followed across a hunting country, died on Monday, August 31, 2015 at the age of ninety-eight. She was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1917 and died at her home in Berryville, Virginia.

A diminutive but magnificent horsewoman, she led the field for the Blue Ridge Hunt (VA) for fifteen years, while in her sixties and seventies, on a succession of bold, grand jumping horses, some off the timber racecourses. She knew her country, knew how the foxes ran, and what I remember best is how she led her field at a steady hand-gallop, at an even pace, whether over fences or in the open, keeping us in touch with hounds in a lovely and seductive rhythm.

She never raised her voice, but spoke in her soft New Zealand accent, always with a touch of a smile, an inquiring arch of her eyebrows, maintaining an eye contact as expressive as her words. She didn’t suffer fools, however, and could flay them with a quiet single-sentence opinion.

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+1 # Paul Kraus 2015-09-10 09:24
Our Connecticut contingent hunted with Blue Ridge following her masterful leadership on several occasions and I quite agree that she ranks among the best field masters. Her diminutive size and unassuming manner belied her expertise, courage, and horsemanship. She maintained authority by the simple fact that she did her job superbly and everyone who knew her recognized that.
Thanks for fleshing out her life in your informative tribute
Paul Kraus
# Denya Massey 2015-09-18 22:30
I remember "Mrs. B" as beautiful, both on a horse and off, and she possessed a fascinating accent, quite exotic to me as a little kid! She, my mother, and Mrs Billy Greenhalgh were a trio that hunted hard, were superb horsewomen, and looked divine at the Hunt Balls.

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