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Horse Maven, Longtime Iroquois Hunt Field Master, Dead At 99

LEXINGTON, KY -- Charlotte Bowman Pursley, the field master of the Iroquois Hunt for 38 years, died Saturday after a short illness. She was 99, reports The Lexington Herald-Leader in its Sunday edition.

Mrs. Pursley was born in Lexington, daughter of Horace W. and Henrietta P. Bowman and was the third great-granddaughter of Revolutionary War Colonel Abraham Bowman, from one of Kentucky's noted pioneer families.

Mrs. Pursley's entire life revolved around horses. As a child living on West Second Street, she had ponies in her backyard and frequently could be seen riding to McAdams & Morford Drug Store on Main Street for sodas, said her daughter Joan Mayer, reports the Herald-Leader.

She competed in hunter horse shows throughout Central Kentucky. After seeing her compete at the Iroquois Hunt Horse Show on Harry Payne Whitney's Greentree Farm, a correspondent from The Wall Street Journalsent his paper this dispatch:

"Easily the best exhibition of the day was the riding of Miss Charlotte Bowman with form equally faultless on a saddle horse or hunter. If there was a better lady rider at the Garden Show or any show along the eastern coast last year I failed to see her."

Mrs. Pursley was the widow of William Fauntleroy Pursley, whom she married in 1928. Fauntleroy Pursley was the Iroquois Hunt's longtime master of the hounds. The couple were married 63 years and devoted much of their lives to building the Iroquois Hunt to national prominence, reports the newspaper.

Field master of the hunt requires intricate knowledge of the vast country through which the hunt rides, Mayer said. It was also Mrs. Pursley's duty to make certain her followers in the field adhered to the decorum and traditions of fox hunting. Among those who rode and learned was Jane Beshear, now Kentucky's first lady.

Beshear, an avid horsewoman, said, "Everything I learned about fox hunting, I learned under her -- manners, etiquette. She was a wonderful horsewoman," Jane Beshear told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

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