A Short Pause

It was decided that the Piedmont Driving Club would suspend picnic drives in much of the Northern Virginia territory due to at least one confirmed case of Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1) in the area.  Consequently the drives planned for Easter Sunday (April 20/Innisfree Farm, Round Hill) and for the following Sunday (April 27/Glen Bolton Farm, The Plains) have been cancelled, with the hope that they can be rescheduled once this crisis has been resolved. Plans are being made for “non-driving” activities, so please continue to check your emails.
On a happier note, take a look at the lovely painting that will be entered into a contest in Baltimore.  Michele (?) painted the picture of Club President Anne Watkins and friends from a photo she took at last year’s drive from Philip Carter Winery in Hume, Va.
The May/June issue of “In and Around Horse Country” features an article about the Club’s 2013 season that was submitted by yours truly (Caroline Cox).  Of the many photos also submitted, they chose to include three with the article, hence Carl Cox, Mary Munster, and Lisa Anderson have perhaps achieved a modicum of fame!

Kittery Point Blue Bell Drive

Piedmont Driving Club President Anne Watkins left nothing to chance as she hosted the Club for this stellar event! At a balmy 80-plus degrees, it was the warmest day so far this year, with just the right touches of sunshine through billowy clouds and gentle breezes. The route from her farm to the Shenandoah was lovely, with plenty of daffodils along the way and a vivid profusion of blue bells all along the river banks. Fourteen turn-outs, including one pair under saddle, made the delightful 7 ½ mile journey to a waterfall and back. There was, of course, a rest stop in a meadow along the way. In keeping with the celebration, Champagne flowed along with plenty of good cheer on the part of Whips, grooms, guests and neighbors who gathered to view the carriages.
Turn-outs included: Carl and Caroline Cox driving their 4 in Hand with new PDC members Michael and Debbie Frost, plus grooms Molly and Alexis on board; Anne Watkins driving her “Windsor greys” with PDC member Kitty Newman and groom Alita; Mary Munster plus grooms driving her Friesian mares, Al and Vicki Baturay driving their Hafflinger pair, Caroline and Bertrand Collomb plus groom driving their Hafflinger pair, Debbie Bauserman and guest driving her Hafflinger, Marci and Keith Bade, driving their Hafflinger mare ……wait, do we see a trend here?….well, not everyone in the Club drives Haffies (at least not yet!). There was also Pat McCann and guest with her Saddlebred/cross, Wayne Porter and guest with his QH, Lisa and Albert Andersen with their Percheron crossbred (and did we see Albert take the lines for a while? Yes we did!), Sam Davis drove the venerable Torr (more on them later!); New PDC member Judy Hahn,a neighbor of Anne’s, drove a lovely dark bay to a natural wood four wheel vehicle and let’s not forget Alcinda and Tom Hatfield with their HALF Hafflinger! Rounding out the group, Leslie Yarbrough and friend rode her pair of TB/Connemara mares and she promises that soon she will bring them in harness.
On such a beautiful day with so many lovely turn-outs to view, there were plenty of appreciative guests. Anne’s neighbors are well aware of this annual event and rarely miss the opportunity to come out. They join us of course for the sumptuous luncheon she and the Club lay out beneath the eaves of Anne’s stable. To get the party started, Vicki Baturay greeted each person with a little cup of “blue bell cheer”. She’s been at it again: this time she suspended blue berries in “shots” of Jello that had been infused with vodka and BLUE curacao, creating a delightful-looking and tasty treat. This year Anne also invited members from her bridge club, a fun loving group for sure. It was a day of celebration as the Club met for its traditional “opening meet” at Kittery Point. Lunch was “over the top” with spring lamb, beef tenderloin, fried chicken, soup, about a dozen different salads, quiche(s), beans, beets, fresh asparagus, chips/dips, crackers/cheeses, wine and even more Champagne. It was also Carl Cox’s birthday so there was, of course, cake for all. The most honored guest, however, had four legs: Founding member Sam Davis brought “Torr” to the party. Perhaps one of the earliest equine members of the PDC, the Connemara came to celebrate his 30thbirthday with carrot cake and several swigs of Guinness straight from the bottle. And, yes, he took his beloved Sam for a cart trip, although not quite down to the river (Torr has seen it many, many times anyway!) Having Torr celebrate his longevity with us at the party presented an opportunity for each of us to reflect on our own horses/ponies and to appreciate that without their willingness to serve and their inherent patience and kindness, we could never know the joys of carriage driving.

Temple Hall

With the deluge of last weekend but a soggy memory, ten turn-outs gathered to drive the soon-to-be verdant fields of Temple Hall Farm in Leesburg, Va. So eager were Club members to be “a-horse”, they came with shaggy, shedding coats and carriages that were perhaps a bit dusty, but with no lack of enthusiasm. Leslie Yarbrough even came WITHOUT her carriage….so to exercise her new pair of TB/Connemara mares, she enlisted the aid of good friend Emma and they rode astride among the carriages. Janet Olcutt and hubby Mike ARRIVED as members of a neighboring Club, the “Weekend Whips” and LEFT as members of the PDC. Their pair of snowball minis took the day’s “awe, how adorable!” award — hands down. The little pair trotted gamely among the PDC turn-outs which included Carl Cox’s (no doubt daunting) 4 in Hand of crossbred black geldings. Caroline was beside him as grooms Molly and Alexis flawlessly performed their duties. Also enjoying the day were: Club President Anne Watkins’s “Windsor greys” with Kitty Newman and groom Alita, Mary Munster’s pair of Friesian mares, the Baturay’s dapper Haflinger geldings, Pat McCann’s elegant-looking saddlebred cross with Mary Jo Beckman on board, Wayne Porter’s big QH with guest Maureen, Debbie Bauserman’s able Haflinger accompanied by Debby Feemster, and the still hunting-fit Sheba with Barbara Wolf at the other end of her lines. Tom was, of course, at her side.
Temple Hall is a welcoming venue for many equestrian pursuits, with wide grass trails that also wind through the woods. There are inviting stream crossings and even piles of logs to pop over (intended we believe for those who come WITHOUT carriages….and while we did not witness it, I expect that since Leslie and Emma have regularly fox hunted her mares, they may have sailed over a few of these.) As a working farm, Temple Hall is a place where horses can be safely desensitized to chickens, peacocks, sheep, pigs and several unusual looking breeds of cattle.
As it was early in our season, this outing was promoted as a “tune up” drive…..an opportunity to go at one’s own pace. It was up to each whip whether to stay on the trails which circled the mowed cornfields, wind through the woods and go in/out of streams, or stick to the farm roads that would take us past machinery, sheds, and all of the afore-mentioned animals. So accommodating is the staff at Temple Hall, the farm manager paid us a visit to ask how we enjoyed our experience and to remind us to sign their guest log. This would help, he pointed out, in future allocations of Park assets for equestrian activities.
With so many decisions to make as to where to drive, at what pace, whom to follow, whom to avoid (!) and so forth, it is no wonder we were famished by the end of it all. So, in keeping with the traditions of the PDC, we put up our horses, ponies and VSE’s (the PROPER term, I am told, for “minis”) and then we hurried over to several long tables that were over-laden with food and drink. If the array presented is any indication, there are bountiful times ahead for the PDC! There was fried chicken, vegan-friendly squash soup, pasta casserole, fruit salads, bean salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, sandwiches, chips, dips, cheeses, pies, cookies, left-over birthday cake (what?! Yes, 3 PDC members celebrated together earlier in the week and even they could not finish the enormous cake that was presented to them….) the weather, the venue, the feast and the friendship – it all made for a perfect day!