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!