We were promised torrential rain, intermittent thunder storms, oppressive humidity and high temperatures. We would have none of it, so we left our horses, ponies, carriages, carts, harness – and our hopes of driving – back in our barns.
We were also promised WINE. If that wouldn’t be enough to encourage our travel to the picturesque Lost Creek Winery in Loudoun County, Virginia, we knew there would be a fine array of box lunches waiting for us as well.Twenty two members and guests of the Piedmont Driving Club upheld our record of having a grand time together even in the absence of our beloved pastime. No driving today? No worries! We entertained ourselves first by participating in a tasting of 4 wines. These we sniffed, swirled, sampled, swallowed, rated and berated, discussed and discerned, and in some cases enjoyed enough to order several bottles. Amazing that we could have this much fun with wine when one considers that about 1/3 of the group rarely, if ever, indulges! Good sports. No one even complained when we departed the tasting room and stepped out into mild temperatures and blue skies. (So much for the forecast!)
The main event wasn’t the wine or the food but rather the opportunity to chat, laugh, tell our stories and visit with each other. We also were able to plan a couple of future drives. Look for us next Sunday at Temple Hall Farm in Loudoun County. Oh yes, and afterwards you might want to drop by Fabbioli Cellars (adjacent to the farm). We have a case of wine waiting…
On again, off again, on again….that’s how best to describe our carriage sojourn at Foxlease! With very little notice, we put together a drive to watch polo. Then, with even less notice, polo was cancelled. Some of us decided to go anyway and, yes, a few polo players decided at the last minute that they’d put in some practice. It was thought that the weather would be too hot, and also that the field might be too wet. Wrong again! The late afternoon and early evening temperatures were PERFECT for the drive, the polo practice and the picnic which followed.
How do you have a “picnic drive” with only 2 carriages? Well, when there is an enthusiastic group that includes the Club President, Vice President, Chairman of the Picnic Drive Committee, the Social & Activities Chairperson, a Founding Member of the Club plus numerous guests, it turns out very well indeed. Carl Cox loaded his roof seat break with guests. Catherine Mackay-Smith Kempson, drove her pony “Farnley Prima Donna” with trainer Maryalice Larkin-Matheson and her unrelenting “Joaquin” on board. Everyone else relied on the “horseless carriages” that conveyed the tables, chairs and all of the delicious picnic fare. Champagne and assorted beverages came in the copper-lined, ice packed “boot” of the break.
Distinguished guests included Doug and Queenie Kemmerer, from whose Innisfree Farm we drove, as well as Molly Savage’s dad, Brooke and his wife Donna — “first timers” all around (for carriage riding, polo-picnicing, and in watching their Molly seamlessly handle responsibility for grooming, harnessing, hitching and transporting Carl’s team!) For those of you who wish you were there, we’ve included lots of pictures. Observe closely and you’ll see that Joaquin somehow managed a seat on the break as well….
“Experience….Planning….Attention to Detail…” Look up any of these and beside their definitions you’ll see pictures of Tom & Barbara Wolf, veteran organizers of the PDC picnic drive at Smitten Farm in The Plains, Virginia. They left NOTHING to chance. Maps were given to each whip and the route was carefully marked. Although it was “go as you please with a turn around at any point”, not one of the eight turn-outs chose to shorten their trip. Certainly nobody wanted to miss the well groomed and shady rest stop where the Wolf’s provided bottomless glasses of Champagne, baskets of cheese straws, chips and Marci Bade’s home made filo “cups.”
We were privileged to drive the manicured roads thru Smitten which led to quiet country roads dotted with lovely estates — over 7 miles in all, and most of that in pleasant shade! Guiding their carriages and guests through this magnificent venue were whips Carl Cox (team), Mary Munster (pair), Al Baturay (pair), Caroline Collomb (pair), Barbara Wolf (Sheba….and if you don’t know who SHEBA is, you haven’t been reading this website!), Lisa Anderson (single), Marci Bade (single)and Deb Bauserman (single). (A note on the Bauserman turn-out: next drive for them will be in Acadia Park, Maine!!!!! — We want pictures!)
Once back, with equines sponged off and carriages loaded, the group made way to the picnic tables on which Barbara had thoughtfully placed flowers from her garden along side a cauldron of well-iced wines. The tables were barely visible once all the food was set up — summer casseroles, quiche, chicken, salads, fruit, cheeses, dips, deserts — everything one has come to expect from a PDC “picnic”! Moving deftly through the seated picnic-ers was Vicki Baturay with an iced pitcher of Margaritas — a welcome touch! Wonderful hosts that they are, the Wolfs had found plenty of shade and managed to keep the rain away (yes, somehow they were responsible for this…) until everyone had gathered, eaten, drank, rested, visited and recounted the high points of the day. The Club was happy to welcome itinerant President Anne Watkins back from her tour of Russia (!) as well as new members Mark Duffell and Dixie Nofsinger. Thus ended another memorable day, thanks to Tom and Barbara Wolf!
Per the mission statement for Philip Carter Winery, “Our focus is to promote a gracious way of living through experiences in wine, culture and the arts.” And so it was that they provided the venue for a meeting of the Piedmont Driving Club which was so generously hosted by members Bob and Leslie Yarbrough. What could be more “gracious” than a parade of correctly appointed carriages through their magnificent grounds? And, afterwards, what better “experience” could there be than the opportunity to sample their delicious wines along with a sumptuous luncheon?
There were eight turn-outs in all: Carl Cox with his team put to a roof seat break, Dr. Tom Burgess (President, CAA) with his pair of Freisians, Caroline Collomb with her pair of Haflingers, Al Baturay with his pair of Haflingers, Barbara Wolf with her eye-catching crossbred mare, Lisa Anderson with her Dutch Warmblood gelding, Linda Wilkins with her Quarter Horse gelding, and Wayne Porter with his attractive bay mare.
But let’s not be distracted by the venue, the wine, the food, the camaraderie….members of the Piedmont Driving Club came to DRIVE, and drive they did! Although it was a warm day, the cloud cover and the breezes were sufficient to keep everyone comfortable. Upon reaching the rest stop, there was a well-iced rum punch and cool cucumber sandwiches for those on board the carriages….and buckets of water and even sponge baths for those pulling them! Bob Yarborough, the consummate host, had thought of EVERYTHING.
One only needs to look at the pictures to understand that words just cannot describe the beauty and grandeur of the route taken. Simply breath-taking!
The Piedmont Driving Club was pleased to be invited to display carriages in a parade at Great Meadow in conjunction with the Independence Day Celebration.
The 7 whips who chose to participate included Carl Cox with his 4 in Hand of black geldings put to a Fenix Roof Seat Break; Mary Munster with her pair of Friesian mares put to a Khunle Presentation vehicle; Al Baturay with his pair of Haflingers put to a Kuhnle fun-liner; Barbara Wolf with her cross-bred mare, Sheba, put to a high riding village road cart; Pat McCann with her TB/Saddlebred gelding, Jay, put to a Bird in Hand Flyer; Alcinda Hatfield, with her Norwegian Fjord crossbred gelding, Buster Brown, put to a Meadowbrook; and Marci Bade with her Haflinger, Maya, put to a Bird in Hand wagonette.
Club member Cynthia Daily announced each turn-out and did a wonderful job in describing each carriage to the audience of 20,000-30,000 very appreciative spectators. In addition to naming each whip, guest(s) and groom(s), she described the history and mission of the Club. She also managed to enlighten the crowd as to the reasons we wear driving aprons, carry whips, have grooms and other information that perhaps was not known to the general public. GREAT job, Cynthia!
Through the generosity of the Great Meadow Foundation, the Club was provided 2 rail spaces on which to have our picnic and watch the fireworks that evening. Most of us stayed until nearly midnight to enjoy the very traditional 4th of July spread brought by Club members (fried chicken, salads, salmon, cheeses, dips, chips, assorted deserts). Our good friend Erica had taken pictures of each turn-out during the parade and kindly displayed these on her lap top, while over glasses of bubbly and glasses of delicious fruity concoctions Club members and guests relived the “high points” of this memorable day.
The Piedmont Driving Club was successful once again in sharing with a great many people the elegance, skill and just plain FUN of carriage driving!