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Lauren Pigford Abbott- Owner and Publisher of Hunt & Field Magazine and Mid-South Horse Review.

I am overwhelmed with excitement to share our first issue of Hunt & Field in its new format. Since 1986 the Field Trial Review has published countless stories of famous bird dogs, their handlers, owners and trusted steeds. When I acquired the publication in June of 2022 I took a hard look at the classic newsprint version. I had a vision of how this publication could transition into a sophisticated and timeless magazine that celebrates the Field Trial, Bird Dog and all gun dog and equine hunting sports that fill our hearts.

I was born into a horse family. My mother grew up in Knoxville, Tenn. She rode gaited horses and showed American Saddlebreds. She always said there was nothing greater than a fine gaited horse cantering in an open field. She learned how to ride her gaited pony bareback before ever owning a saddle or taking a riding lesson.

When she moved to Memphis, Tenn. as a young 21-year-old the first horse friend she made was Mary Jo Land. Mary Jo, known to us as Mama Jo, was a pint sized, feisty and spirited horse woman. She was fearless, headstrong, and hilarious. She too rode gaited horses and she loved Field Trialing. Mary Jo would call my mom and tell her when and where they were riding. My mom would show up at Mary Jo’s farm in Olive Branch, Miss. They would load the horses and make their way towards Ames Plantation. It is a past time my mom speaks fondly about when remembering her old friend.

My mother shared her passion for horses with her five children. In the Greater Memphis area Hunter/ Jumpers ruled the equine community, so we rode hunters. I had the great fortune of learning to ride and own Thoroughbreds. They made me tough. The Thoroughbred is definitely not a Field Trial horse but I knew, if I were to step into this community, to tell your stories, I needed to have my own Field Trial experiences.

When I made the decision to acquire the Mid-South Horse Review and the Field Trial Review one of the first people I told was Amy Weatherly, who lives on Ames Plantation with her husband Chris. Chris works for Ames and serves as a Marshall during the Nationals. Amy is my equine vet and friend. I knew she would help me learn the world of Field Trials and Bird Dogs and who I needed to meet.

Amy and Chris were kind enough to reserve one of the Ames’ horses for me to ride in my first Field Trial. Chris said, “You’ll be riding ‘Bone Crusher’ today!” As we laughed a fellow field trialer said, “Don’t worry, I’m riding ‘Widow Maker!’”

Yes! These are my kind of horse people: welcoming, laid back, and hilarious, just like Mama Jo.

I was fortunate to mount at the front of Ames Manor and ride a full three hour brace. To be honest, I am just getting back to riding since having my daughter last March. I am proud to say, I could dismount, still walk, and I was not as sore or immobile the next day as I thought I would be.

I experienced a wonderful ride under cloudy skies and upper 60 degree temperatures. I laughed with other members of the gallery, didn’t get as muddy as I thought I would, and I got to witness, first hand, the athleticism and beauty of the amazing bird dogs, their handlers and their scouts. I saw a couple of covey and a dog that ran for three hours straight. I’d say my first experience was a successful one!

I am truly thankful to all who welcomed me at Ames and the National Championship. Dr. Rick Carlisle gave me a condensed history of the sport, Ames, and its legacy. Dr. Allan Houston filled me in on the Ames ecological community- quail, deer, livestock, forestry, etc. And Jamie Evans, and his wife Dee, were gracious to share photography from every brace with my team. Amy and Chris Weatherly introduced me to wonderful people- the judges, handlers, owners, staff, and long time friends of the National Championship and Ames.

So what’s the vision of Hunt & Field? Ultimately, when researching bird and gun dog sports I knew if I was going to publish anything, I wanted to publish content that was not rushed and hastily pulled together. I wanted to be thoughtful with the stories, photography and design. I wanted to share the beauty that goes with this sport. I wanted to share the love for these dogs and horses. I wanted to present this sport with a modern and thriving heartbeat that could be felt through the pages.

Some say this is a sport of an older generation, and it has been for some time. My vision for Hunt & Field is to help spread this sport year round with interested enthusiasts to help bring excitement to younger generations. If I can ask you a couple of favors, one is to support this magazine, and the other is to teach me all about your sport. I am a horse loving, outdoor girl who doesn’t know the ins and outs of the bird dog world just yet, but I promise, I am invested and in for the long haul.

I am grateful for all the new friends I have made throughout this process and during the National Championship. We will be publishing Hunt & Field quarterly so please plan to subscribe and follow our journey into your world.


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