Great Meadow

Under a brilliant August sky on a day with balmy weather….what better way to spend it than riding in a carriage at Great Meadow, on the exquisite venue that has been so carefully preserved by the late philanthropist Arthur W. “Nick” Arundel?  As described in the website, this “beautiful rolling site has become a paradigm for adaptive use of an abandoned farm into open space for equestrian and community events…” It was an unforgettable experience for the members of the Piedmont Driving Club who exhibited carriages there on July 4.  Imagine now the excitement generated when we were allowed to meet there for a picnic drive.  The roads, pathways, fields and – yes – the entire race course were all accessible to our carriages. We trotted ’round the formidable timber fences, past the daunting water jump and finally across the finish line — the very same one that the indomitable “Saluter” crossed at age 11 to become the All Time Virginia Gold Cup Champion, with 6 wins at the Virginia Gold Cup, 2 at the International Gold Cup, and a speed record that he held for 11 years.

Nine turn-outs enjoyed the day:  Carl Cox drove “All the Boys” to his roof seat break. On board were his wife and Club Social Director, Caroline, and guests Kim Shelly and Stephanie Nicoll, plus grooms Molly Savage and Alexis King. Club President Anne Watkins drove her “Windsor Greys” with Club members Flora Hillman and Kitty Newman in the carriage.  Mary Munster drove her award-winning Freisian mares, Matsje and Rinske.  Mark Duffell drove the Whitestone Farm Belgians to an elegant Surrey with Dixie Noffsinger and George Lemm along for the ride.  Al Baturay, with wife and Club Secretary Vicki, drove their perfectly matched Haflinger geldings.  Driving singles were Barbara and Tom Wolf with their stunning mare “Sheba“, Wayne Porter and guest with steady-as-you-go “Tucker“, Deb Bauserman and guest with her ever-reliable “Art“ and our Hosts Marci and Keith Bade with “Maya Luv”, the Club’s only Haflinger mare! The scenery was unmatched, with pleasant rolling fields, a crossing between sparkling ponds, roads that curved lazily around the outside of the race course, and even a hotly contested polo match in the distance!  Such must have been Nick Arundel’s vision for this property and the Club felt privileged to be a part of it.

Even before we unloaded our trailers, Hosts Marci and Keith Bade had placed tables with a dizzying array of floral arrangements under huge shade trees in anticipation, no doubt, of the generous offerings that were to come.  Assisting Marci were Evelyn Caroline and Brenda Milne (a friend and “behind the scenes” supporter of our Club!)  Marci provided a mountain of fried chicken, rolls/foccacia, platters of her deviled eggs and a very enticing (bottomless?) pitcher of Sangria. Club members and guests filled in with 8-10 different salads, bowls of fruit (including Mark’s “how sweet it is” cantaloupe), pies, cookies, and Dixie’s “killer” bundt cake.  As usual, there was a selection of sodas, water, wine(s) and Champagne.  Not only does this Club like to eat, it likes to CELEBRATE.Thus came Marci with a beautifully decorated cake which she presented to our “anniversary couple”, Tom and Barbara Wolf (46 years and counting!).  Glasses were also raised to acknowledge Kim Shelly’s service at Great Meadow. She’s been a terrific friend to the PDC and is moving on to a new job.  Lastly, Carl offered a toast to our Hosts: Marci and Keith Bade, who worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone had a good time (and PLENTY to eat!)     


Your Hat Lady Party

So what do members and friends of the Piedmont Driving Club do when they aren’t cleaning harness?  They plan their wardrobes, of course!  Gloves, driving aprons, sturdy shoes — while they may be important — are not much fun to shop for.  But HATS…..ah, HATS!!!!  The Club is fortunate to have a great friend in Gertie Edwards, AKA “Your Hat Lady”. So when Gertie extended an invitation to an after-hours soiree at her beautifully appointed shop we were only too happy to accept!  She provided a groaning board of sandwiches, cheeses, crackers, cookies, fruit, chips, dips……and we brought the Champagne.  A perfect pairing.  We also brought our heads…for Gertie’s HATS.  Another great pairing!  

Club members Vicki Baturay, Cynthia Daly, Caroline and Carl Cox, Wayne Humphreys were there, plus prospective members Debbie and Joe Dempsey, Debbie Nash and her mum, Barbara French.  All had a great time.  Indeed a couple of the named gents bought HATS and most of the named ladies bought several!  Would you believe that afterwards we all gathered at Café Torino for dinner????  Great way to extend a celebration!

Gertie Edwards can be reached at 540 349 9999 and her shop can be viewed on Facebook at:

Takaro Farm

“Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!”……..And all of us who drove from Takaro know exactly what this means, but more on it later!

As promised earlier in the Spring, the Piedmont Driving Club assembled “in force” to celebrate the marriage of our good friend and supporter, Woody Offutt, to his beautiful Erika.  The event was hosted in style by Vicki and Al Baturay, with a bottle of Champagne presented to the happy couple.  Eleven turn-outs — a season record for 2013 — participated.  Leading with his four in hand, Carl and Caroline Cox (assisted by Team Cox grooms Molly Savage and Veronica Demarest) were delighted to bring Woody and Erika as guests in their wagonette.  The four sets of pairs that followed were:  Club President Anne Watkins driving her “Windsor Greys” with long time Club members Flora Hillman and Kitty Newman on board; Al and Vicki Baturay with their Haflingers; Mary Munster and Pat McCann with Mary’s Friesians; and Mark Duffel driving those handsome Belgian’s to a wagonette.  In it rode Dixie Noffsinger, her daughter Dawn, Mark’s Mom and Dad, his special guest from Finland and George Lemm of Whitestone Farm, Aldie, Virginia.
Driving singles to a lovely variety of carts and wagonettes were Barbara and Tom Wolf, with their gorgeous mare, “Sheba“; Sam Davis with “Hazeldon Perseus“, her talented Connemara; Marci and Keith Bade with her pretty Haflinger, “Maya Luv“;  Alcinda Hatfield with the incomparable “Buster Brown” (the reins being handled much of the time by her young daughter); Wayne Porter and Joan Cameron driving the always impressive “Tucker”, and — just back from Acadia Park, Maine — Deb Bauserman driving her very handy Haflinger, “Art”.
It was a warm August afternoon with just enough breeze to make the 6 mile loop very pleasant indeed.  We were on shaded gravel roads nearly all the way, passing one picturesque farm after another along the route.  Our rest stop was on the lane through Kentfields, just across from Kentwood (our friend and guest Dixie’s farm).  Vicki Baturay ensured that Champagne flowed while Keith Bade served his wife’s perfect little pastries at each carriage.  Our gracious bride and groom alighted from the Cox vehicle and made it a point to greet and visit with everyone.  We sipped, nibbled, chatted and enjoyed the scenery until all of our equines were well rested and ready for what lay ahead.
And what did lie ahead?  Well, first there was a very challenging descent down a winding road that eventually crossed a narrow bridge, then a brisk trot uphill past the Piedmont Hunt Kennels.  Hounds “viewed” us and alerted!  No worries, our capable carriage horses and ponies continued on.  Our last turn was into a private paved road leading past the home of a generous neighbor adjacent to Takaro, who welcomes carriages and fox hunters through his property.  It’s a very beautiful driveway, with stately trees, well groomed shrubbery and…..yes, “lions and tigers and bears” throughout.  Actually, these were magnificent statues of many animals (a bear, an elephant, a lion, a buffalo, a giraffe, a warthog, to name JUST A FEW!)  But, imagine that you are a harness horse….you’ve been obediently guiding your carriage along quiet roads when, all of a sudden from behind a shrub, you start to see huge animals lurking about.  This is where you begin to understand that blinders, the touch of a lash and a few encouraging words from your “whip” can be a very good thing!  Happily, there were no problems and all were carried back safely to the lavish picnic which followed, with too much food and drink to even begin to describe it!   Thanks to the newly wed Mr. and Mrs. M. Wilson Offutt, the Baturays and everyone else who contributed so generously, it was a perfect afternoon!  Check out the pictures…   

Oakwood Farm

We had such a grand time last Sunday at Temple Hall Farm that Caroline Collomb wanted to squeeze in another picnic drive before her return to France later in the week.  Seven whips were able to take advantage of her kind invitation to drive from her Oakwood estate on Thursday, August 8.  Caroline, accompanied again by Bridgette, led with her pair of Haflingers.  Mary Munster and Pat McCann followed with the Friesian “girls,” then came 2 more Haflingers driven by Al Baturay with Vicki in the groom‘s seat.  These were followed by Carl’s crossbred wheelers.With him were his wife Caroline, her niece and groom Carla and her 9 year old son, Jacob (who practiced his coaching horn). Driving singles were Barbara Wolf and hubby Tom, Wayne Porter with a groom and Alcinda Hatfield with her son.  Maryalice Larkin-Matheson worked with Leslie Yarborough as they ground drove Leslie’s attractive new pair of crossbred ponies and exposed them to the sights and sounds of passing carriages.

The route from the heights of Oakwood was smooth and incredibly scenic, as were the roads through Land Ho, Caroline’s adjacent property.  Eventually, however, we came to the bottom land at Granville.  Here we followed “yet-to-be-mowed” hunt trails until we came to our rest stop, “Nash’s Pond.”  The driving was challenging indeed with mud up to hubs near a couple of the water crossings!Fortunately there were no serious mishaps and some of us thought it was rather fun to drive through stalks as high as our horses’ heads.  Perhaps as a reward for our adventurous spirit, Caroline had arranged for her staff to serve Champagne and pate-frosted crostini while we rested by the pond.  The route home seemed quite easy, albeit uphill, as we crossed mowed hay fields and rejoined the Oakwood farm roads leading to the mansion.

Lunch was served at the terraced gardens near the pool.  Wine flowed and plates were filled.  Grilled chicken, home made corn bread, salads galore, those wonderful dumplings that Vicki dresses with her “secret sauce”, dozens of cookies and, yes of course, a tray “avec le fromage” completed the meal.  We wish Caroline a safe trip and look forward to September when she’ll be with us and back in the box seat! 

Temple Hall/Fabioli Cellars

Temple Hall….where is it?  What is it?  According to the web site:  “A regional park, Temple Hall is a working farm dedicated to preserving the agriculture and natural resources of Loudoun County.  It exists as a recreational and educational facility for children and adults who want to learn about the diverse aspects of animal and crop farming.”  And how did the Piedmont Driving Club end up there?  Look no further than dedicated members Al and Vicki Baturay.  It seems that on days when they aren‘t driving with the Club, they are scouting new territory.   What a prize they found in Temple Hall!  It boasts over 5 miles of superbly groomed trails, all suitable for carriages.  And… is adjacent to a winery.  What could be better?  Fabbioli Cellars welcomed 10 carriages and many guests, giving us ample parking, our own tent and a delightful lady to keep our wine glasses full during the picnic phase of our adventure. 

 The Club was proud to display 5 pairs and 5 singles, all splendidly turned out.  Driving pairs were Carl Cox (with his wife Caroline and Club President Anne Watkins), Mary Munster (with Club member Pat McCann), Caroline Collomb (with guest Bridgette, visiting from Belgium), Al Baturay (with wife, Vicki) and new member Mark Duffell (with Dixie Noffsinger and her daughter, Dawn) with his magnificent Belgian draft horses.  Singles were driven by Barbara Wolf (with husband Tom), Wayne Porter (with guest Joan Cameron), Sam Davis (with Club member Kitty Newman), Marci Bade (with husband Keith) and new member Anna Koopman with her elegant Morgan.We were pleased to see Club member Kari LaBell is recovering well from recent hip replacement surgery and we look forward to seeing her back on the box seat. 

The weather was perfect, as was the scenery and the “going”.  It was a short trip down a wide gravel road to the entrance of Temple Hall Farm.  Once inside the gate, there was mowed grass, plenty of shade along the lanes that embraced rows of corn, and a nice path through the woods with a couple of well placed water crossings.  Yes it is a farm and, yes, there were sheep and cattle off in the distance, but the horses were undaunted.  Perhaps the most curious creature they encountered was a peacock who surveyed the passing carriages from his perch on a porch railing.  He seemed a gentle soul and so it was without incident that we returned to the grounds of Fabbioli Cellars where we commenced our picnic.  As is typical of our Club, the food was fabulous, with unending platters of beef, barbecue, salads, fresh tomatoes, beets, “just picked this morning cantaloupe, quiche, cheese trays and even a home made birthday cake for Keith Bade!  While I’m certain there were sodas and bottled water, most people seemed to gravitate to the case of Fabbioli’s fine wines that was supplied by the Cox/Baturay alliance.  Everyone had a great time and we were even given wine glasses as mementos of the day!  We are indebted once again to Vicki and Al Baturay for all that they  do for this Club.