“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…