Innisfree Farm Picnic Drive

There were nine turn-outs in all at the Innisfree Farm picnic drive including TWO unicorns, three pair and four singles.  Yes, host Doug Kemmerer took out three of his well -matched chestnut thoroughbreds, and Mary Munster hitched her three Friesians.  The Baturay and Collomb carriages were pulled by pairs of Haflingers (of course!)  Carl Cox drove his black and tan geldings, Barbara Wolf drove her big black Sheba, Tom Albert drove his very black Lino, Albert Andersen drove his splashy grey Amos, and Alcinda Hatfield drove her butterscotch pony (don’t know the name!)

Doug led the way ‘round a 5-plus mile loop along historic gravel roads.  The scenery was breathtaking, every inch of the way.  Every farm, house and cottage is maintained to perfection with intact stone walls and thoughtful landscaping.  We passed through the tiny village of Unison and up a winding farm road to “Kennedy’s Hill.”  There we stopped for refreshments.  The view from this height was magical in every direction, thanks in part to the Kemmerer’s continuing efforts to lobby for land preservation.

With the help of Queenie and her staff, Caroline Cox distributed Bauchant-infused fresh fruit cups and “lemon drops” with/without Vodka as requested.  Light faire for a fair day to be sure!  With temps in the low 80’s, a slight breeze and NO humidity, it was easy on horses, whips, grooms and guests alike.

Once rested we wound our way down the meadow and past a glistening pond, then it was back onto the gravel road for a leisurely trot to Innisfree.

Somehow, in between putting Doug’s horses to and loading their wagonette, Queenie had managed to transform their stable into an inviting eatery.  She’d arranged a buffet and set out chairs for all.  The tables were over-laden with homemade pulled pork, coleslaw a la Barbara Wolf, delicious stuffed grape leaves, yummy baked beans, ciabatta rolls, Queenie’s signature cheese dollars, and quiche as only the French can make it (I think I already hinted that Caroline Collomb drove with us!)  There was homemade lemonade and plenty of wine (we’re still emptying bottles left over from our Christmas Party).  In all it was quite a feast!

What about dessert?  Isn’t the Piedmont Driving Club known for finishing off every event with something sweet?  Well, how about TWO chocolate sheet cakes: one in celebration of host Doug’s birthday and the other to recognize the significant accomplishments of two treasured members.  Doug and Sam Davis were both elevated to “Honorary Membership” status for their long- time and unwavering dedication to the Piedmont Driving Club.  President Anne Watkins made the presentation.  Congratulations on behalf of the entire Membership!

 

Carriage Day at Banbury Cross

By the kind invitation of Nelson Gunnell, the Piedmont Driving Club was invited to display carriages during a polo match at his Banbury Cross estate in Middleburg, Virginia.  The weather on Sunday, June 25, was perfect for polo, driving and for those who sat and watched both.

Seven turnouts arrived for a drive from Banbury and down a shaded road to Rutledge, home of former PDC member Monica Greenburg and now co owned and managed by her son, Aleco Bravo-Greenburg.   We were privileged to drive over winding lanes of pea gravel, carefully constructed for ease of travel by horses and carriages.  We passed the breathtaking stone mansion (circa 1740) and by the broodmare barn, shops, office and various other buildings.  Eventually we came to a polo field where Caroline Cox had set up a refreshment stop with cups of berries soaked in Bauchant  and rum punch made even more fragrant by a sprig of mint.  Before we were able to indulge, however, Carl Cox reminded everyone that we had agreed to a “carriage exhibition” and that the several hundred people who were assembled to watch polo would be expecting to see us.  What better place to practice our “review” than this empty polo field!  Carl directed whips in the proper way to enter, circle, line up straight (FRONT AXLE to FRONT AXLE, please!) and leave the formation in an orderly fashion.  We worked through it a couple of times and then rewarded ourselves with the treats at the rest stop.

Time to move off, we trotted from Rutledge, through Banbury, down a road and through some woods.  In front of us was another polo field, this one rimmed with a cheering crowd and it was time now to display our carriages.  In we trotted, just as we had practiced.  We lined up, saluted, and Maryalice Matheson-Thomas alighted from the Cox carriage to explain each of our turnouts to the spectators, but NOT before Bobby Dryer had announced us with his coaching horn.  

Whips for this event were Carl Cox, Mary Munster, Mark Duffell, Dr. Tom Albert, Lisa Andersen, Wayne Porter and Barbara Wolf.

Once unhitched and unharnessed, we were invited by Nelson to watch polo.  He graciously offered seats in the shade, access to his open bar and, maybe best of all, LUNCH which consisted of oysters, crab cake sandwiches, lobster rolls, homemade chips  and ice cream.  What more could anyone want???  It was a spectacular day for the Piedmont Driving Club, a chance for us to show who we are and also an opportunity for those Club members who participated to realize how valued we are within this community.

Morven Park Carriage Driving Show June 17 & 18

Two beautiful days brought 7 competitors from the Piedmont Driving Club to the grounds of Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia for the annual Carriage Driving Competition.  Managed by Laura Doyle, this show is recognized by the American Driving Society and brings in the best!

It was a battle from start to finish among the “draft horse types”……Lisa Andersen, Kim Cameron and Deb Bauserman switched placings a few times, but each ended up with either a blue, red or yellow every time they left the ring.  Same was true for the “multiples” classes.  Mary Munster and Dr. Tom Burgess, each driving Friesians, took blue, then red, then blue in Turnout, Reinsmanship and Working classes.  They were neck and neck all day.  Could Tom have had an advantage over Mary because he was showing a pair against her unicorn?  Or, could it have been the other way around?  Either way, both whips and horses performed spectacularly.

Multiple ribbons were won by Dr. Tom Burgess, Kim Cameron, Mary Munster, Lisa Andersen, Deb Bauserman, Wayne Porter and Molly Savage.  Way to go, PDC!!!!!!

Barbara and Tom Wolf, Doug Ward and Vicki and Al Baturay joined the fun on Sunday when the Club went on a picnic drive through the beautiful grounds surrounding the Mansion at Morven Park.  Laura provided a delightful rest stop and lots of pictures were taken.  As has come to be our tradition, an “after glow” party took place under the shade trees overlooking what had been the race track (it is undergoing renovation).  There was plenty of food, drink and congratulations spread around!

For specifics on the show results, please check out the Morven Park website.  And whose photos will you see?  Kim and Mary and Lisa have all made it to the site!

Happy Birthday Drive at Judy Hahn’s Gleneden Farm

June 11, a Sunday, and another great day for the Piedmont Driving Club!  Carriages gathered on the expansive lawn of Gleneden for a trot down the road, over the fields and through the woods to the Shenandoah.  A typical summer day in Virginia, it was a bit muggy but no one seemed to care.  Once we got to the river there was the sound of cool water lapping the shore and a nice breeze through the trees.  This drive was “go as you please” so whips took various routes.  It is nice, and unusual, to have a venue where this is possible!  In all there were about 8 carriages.  Club President Anne Watkins was able to join the group directly from her Kittery Point Farm, as she is a neighbor.

Following the drive, everyone assembled ‘round the pool behind Judy and Bill Hahn’s beautiful home.  Usually to see such landscaping, one would need to visit the gardens at Winterthur or Dumbarton Oaks, but no, it was all here for us to enjoy.  The Hahn’s have created an absolute fantasy land of perennials, annuals, shrubbery and statuary.  

The pot luck picnic luncheon began with fresh berries and ended with a HUGE birthday cake.  In between were sandwiches, ham, fried chicken, salads, casseroles, cheeses, breads, and just about anything else one would care to eat!  The food was un-ending because, in addition to the PDC contributions, the Hahns had invited family and friends.  Again, did I mention the birthday cake?  We were all there to celebrate both Bill and Judy’s birthdays.  No, nobody asked “how old” but probably if added together, we could have put at least 100 candles on the cake???

It was a fun party, long remembered for sure!

PDC Pre Show Clinic

Our own Maryalice Matheson-Thomas presented a driving clinic in preparation for the Morven Park Carriage Driving Show, scheduled for June 17,18 in Leesburg, Virginia.  There were 5 whips who participated (Doug Ward, Molly Savage, Lisa Andersen, Deb Bauserman and Lil Jacobs) and there were about 10 auditors.  The clinic was held at Dr. Tom and Mary Kay Albert’s beautiful Traumerei Farm in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Tom had meticulously groomed his spacious outdoor arena for the event and there was room for practice in cones as well as practice for all the maneuvers  that would be expected in the show.

Maryalice began the day with a very informative lecture.  Her experience as a coaching judge, driving judge and long -time competitor was invaluable.  She covered a wide range of topics including how to dress appropriately for your turnout, how to enter the ring, salute the judge, take the rail in the proper direction, pass others and so forth.  She emphasized the need for crisp and clearly defined changes of gait and discussed the safe manner for lining up, backing and taking direction from the ring master. She carefully evaluated each participant, giving helpful hints and making adjustments to harness as necessary.  Following the “show” section of the morning in the ring, Maryalice set up a cones course and most whips went through it multiple times.  For some, it was the first time they had ever attempted cones.  In all, there was plenty of fun for everyone!

Following the clinic, participants and auditors were invited to the Albert’s patio for a sumptuous luncheon of barbecue with ALL the fixin’s.  As we waited for the caterers to set up we enjoyed wine, strawberries and other summer goodies by the edge of the Albert’s Koi pond.  Not shy, the fish came out from under lily pads and rocks to put on a dazzling display of color and, I suppose, to see what we were all about.  Soon we were joined by Gunter and Hilde, two LARGE and well -mannered Great Danes who also live at Traumerei.  

It was a wonderful day and the Club is grateful to both Maryalice and the Alberts for making it possible.  

By the way…….the PDC “killed” at the show!  More on that later…

GLEN BOLTON TO CHETWOOD PARK AND BACK!

Sunday, June 4, 2017 the Club assembled at Mary Munster’s Glen Bolton farm in The Plain, Va. For a trot over to and through Dr. Seager’s manicured Chetwood Park.  It is a private home of course, but Chetwood is also a venue for both arena and field polo, home to the annual “Ride to Thrive” charity event and has even been the setting for several country weddings.  

There were six turn outs in all.  Carl Cox led off with his “black and tan” pair.  On board were Club members Bob and Leslie Yarborough and groom Alexis King.  Bobby Dryer sounded the horn as we departed.  Mary Munster drove her unicorn of Friesians with Barbara Wolf on board.  Barbara took the lines on the way home – a first for her!  Mark Duffell took the box seat on his elegant eight passenger wagonette, drawn by Waylon and Willie, his handsome Belgians.  On board with Mark were Whitestone owner and great friend to the PDC, George Lemm and several friends, including of course, Erin who looked stunning as usual.  Club President, Anne Watkins, drove Czar with her groom Dennis.  Tom and Marykay Albert drove one of their Friesian crossbreds, Lino, to a beautifully restored spindle seat wagonette.  Wayne Porter, with Club member Pat McCann as his guest, drove his little bay. (really cute but I cannot remember her name!)  

It was a lovely 6 ½ mile trip down shaded gravel roads. When we passed through the stone pillars leading away from Chetwood we came upon a table set with a pretty cloth and flowers – yes, our “rest stop”.  Carriages pulled up under big shade trees while Caroline, Pat and Barbara hopped off to serve.  There were cups of rum punch adorned with mint leaves, “un spiked” fruit drinks similarly adorned, and water of course.  The Coxes also provided cucumber sandwiches and Mascarpone-dotted dried apricots as snacks.

Once back at Glen Bolton, Mary invited the group into her spacious home.  There we found a groaning board of luncheon delights, the centerpiece of which was the Elk meatloaf she’d prepared.  Side dishes included beets, several versions of potato salad, green bean casserole, baked beans, coleslaw and much more.  Desserts were abundant as well:  cupcakes, pies, and even a birthday cake for groom Dennis!  We were joined at lunch by Club members Maryalice Matheson-Thomas, Cynthia Daily, Mary’s friend George, and one Great Dane puppy (Monroe!), one prize winning whippet and a “chiweeney” puppy (designer dog, it’s a cross between a chihuahua and a miniature dachshund) and yes, we all want one!

The Mellon Estate/Oak Spring Farm

Home to the late businessman, philanthropist, art collector, horse breeder and all-around good man Paul Mellon, along with his art-loving and horticulturalist wife Rachel (aka Bunny), the Mellon Estate keeps setting records.  Yes, the Mellons who created it and loved it for so many years are no longer of this earth, but their legacy continues.  The 2000-plus acres of pristine Virginia countryside have been divided into four parcels:  the Mellon Foundation occupies several buildings and much land, where it exists as an educational entity that fosters both the study of art and all things botanical.  Another section belongs to a private family.  Senator Jill Vogel of Virginia lives in the “Brick House” along with her husband and children.  It was in this 10,000 square foot house that the Mellons kept a substantial art collection.  The remaining section, with another mansion and a mile-long air strip is still available for purchase.

Paul Mellon raised over 1000 stakes-winning race horses on this property.  Their winnings totaled over $30,000,000 .  He was the only breeder to ever win the Kentucky Derby, the Epsom Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.    In 2004, 2007 AND 2011, Members of the New York Coaching Club were invited to travel across a small portion of the property, probably the only horse-drawn vehicles to do so since most of the buildings were erected (1940’s).  The estate, and the wonderful things to be found there, has been pretty much of a secret, a very private place.  Who could ever have imagined that the Piedmont Driving Club, a lesser-known but local group of carriage enthusiasts, would be invited to trot over the roads that wind through the whole estate (among them:  Sea Hero, Quadrangle, Mill Reef –  all named after beloved horses.)  Nine turn-outs left neighboring Blue Ridge Farm and entered the estate through Senator Vogel’s private gate.  She, like so many others who live or work there, expressed delight at having horses on the property again, using the roads as they were meant to be used.  Carriages passed between miles of stone walls and by the Brick House, the broodmare barns, a pool house that was designed by I.M. Pei, a cottage that Bunny Mellon had remodeled especially for Jackie Kennedy to stay in on her many visits to the estate, and the exquisite stone cottage where Bunny spent her last years, as well as numerous green houses and terraced gardens.  It was truly an honor and a thrill!

Whips from the PDC included Mary Munster driving a Unicorn, Carl Cox driving a pair, and Theresa Young, Sam Davis, Tom Albert, Lil Jacobs, Judy Hahn, Deb Bauserman and Maryalice Matheson each driving singles.   Each carriage carried guests.  Host for this event, Lil Jacobs arranged a rest stop under a spreading tree at Oak Spring (near the dairy).  There she and husband, Smokey, served chocolate dipped strawberries and Champagne, indeed a most fitting accompaniment to the setting!

Back at Blue Ridge where our trailers were parked, we unhitched and gathered our chairs at Lil’s tables.  She served a very “Virginia” luncheon of fried chicken and ham biscuits with Club side dishes that added to the day’s mood of “all things Southern.”  There was plenty of wine and tea of course!