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Few girls graduate from Virginia's exclusive Foxcroft School without learning to ride. The headmistress says that the course teaches students sportsmanship and self-discipline

Foxcroft is a girls' prep school so tony that its students were once taught how to cope with the butler back home. Set as it is in the hunting country of Middleburg, Va., Foxcroft is better known for its fine riding program, the major aspect of a demanding physical education program that includes basketball, field hockey, tennis, Softball and gymnastics. Weekday afternoons nearly all of the 133 girls, many of whose parents are listed in the Social Register or Who's Who or both, slip into impeccable tweed jackets and jodhpurs for riding class. In addition to scheduled morning and evening rides, for $275 enthusiasts can obtain two extra hours of instruction each week—a trifle considering the regular $3,300 tuition fee. The school supplies dozens of horses to accommodate its students, but some girls board their own in the Foxcroft stables. "Before a girl can learn to control a horse," says Headmistress Bertha S. Adkins, "she has to be able to control herself. That, after all, is what education really is."

Foxcroft girls lead a sheltered but Spartan life—no lipstick, sturdy brown oxfords and unheated sleeping porches. There are no fripperies like weekend proms. There is riding instead. A Foxcroft equestrienne who learns her lessons well enough may earn permission to join the Middleburg Hunt. Many hack to local horse shows. And this fall Foxcroft inaugurated a one-day competition in cross-country, stadium jumping and dressage with Madeira and St. Catherine's, two comparable Virginia institutions. Until recently the school had been saddled with a country-club, finishing-school reputation, but the girls study as hard as they ride. Says Headmistress Adkins, "Riding is only one part of our program here. Our academic work in preparing girls for college is our primary concern at Foxcroft."

Military drill (right) was started in 1942 by Founder Charlotte Noland, as a patriotic gesture during the war and for lessons in discipline. Injured girl fell from her horse during class.

Foxcroft girls must dress properly in riding habits for every class (above). Senior Virginia Swift of Georgia (right) is captain of the Foxes, one of two competing campus teams, and the top rider.

Jane Converse (right), who is competing in this week's National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden, displays flawless form as she takes her own horse over a practice jump.

When not in classes, students may dress casually in blue Jeans (above) for a meander over some of the school's 600 acres. Girls, age 14 to 18, come from all over country and abroad.

Frisky horse kicks up (right) during walk on Sunday, the grooms' day off. Girls, who are driven to chapel standing up in an open truck, obligingly take mounts out after church.

Virginia Swift leads four other members of riding honor society to a lesson. Black shirts and hats are tradition that dates back to the '30s, when group was founded by Charlotte Noland after a trip to Mussolini's Italy.