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I wouldn’t consider myself a country girl, but I’d say I have a few traits. I’ve listened to legends like Conway Twitty and George Strait since I was a kid. It’s a way of life that some can’t relate to and never will, which can make looking for love difficult.

My favorite food is Southern cooking, and I’ve only been to two weddings out of a dozen or so where the bride, groom, wedding party, and a majority of the attendees didn’t wear boots.

Here, we visit Horace Batten Ltd, an old and well-respected artisan firm of riding boot makers.

Most readers will be familiar with the traditional hunting ensemble which, while apparently unchanged since around the time of the 1832 Reform Act, is nevertheless highly evolved to meet specific needs, fundamentally concerning protection of the rider from various circumstances.There will also be occasional drenchings in streams, or from wet and windy weather, to factor in.Mud and stink, filthy, cold, cloud-darkened wet British winter weather, broken bones and sore fingers – I trust I am managing to convey something of the glamour of the British hunting scene?My main interest in this regard is somewhat specialised: the hunting boot.Here in the UK, the debate over the rights and wrongs of fox hunting has rumbled on for a century and more, but I do not intend to be drawn into that argument here, save to observe that, regardless of its many opponents, and despite various efforts to put an end to it – most recently with the Blair Labour Government’s 2004 Hunting Act – fox hunting remains as popular as ever; indeed there are very few counties in England and Wales where, during the winter months, hunting does not take place several times each week.Riding encompasses many disciplines: competition riding in its various forms (showjumping, dressage, endurance riding), Western riding (including cattle ranching and so forth), long distance riding and pony-trekking, polo, hacking-out, and – of particular interest to myself – there is also hunting.Nor should one overlook the continuing military and police activities that involve horse riding.The hunting season is just starting, so it has been a busy time lately.Mr Batten is firmly of the opinion that shoe-making and boot-making are complementary yet largely inimical activities.Mr Batten immediately busies himself with various oils and polishes to make good some of the wear and tear they have suffered – he reassures me that they will last quite a few more seasons, yet.The Batten premises are not large; three rooms forming an L-shape, although plans are in hand to extend – at present there are eight staff, and a remarkable assortment of complex machinery, some of it specialist even by the arcane standards of the general shoe industry.

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