Your Hat Lady Event

Once again members and friends of the Piedmont Driving Club were invited to gather for a sampling of “Chapeaux and Canapes” at Gertie Edwards’ shop in Warrenton, Va. Your Hat Lady never disappoints! She had a huge collection of spring and summer hats for us to try and we bought quite a few! Among the happy hat shoppers were Vicki Baturay, Caroline Collomb, Caroline Cox, Teresa Young and Pat McCann. Yes, Carl Cox also managed to find the “perfect” hat, this one to complement his newly acquired rain gear for his roof seat break. Sadly some of our “regulars” were still in England at the “post Windsor” festivities. Gracious Gertie provided no end of sandwiches, fruit and cheeses platters and homemade goodies to accompany the bubbles we discretely brought along (!) Afterwards we had a delicious meal at “Sibby’s”, arguably some of the BEST barbecue south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

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Great Meadow

Fifteen Members and friends of the Piedmont Driving Club met on a spectacular Spring Sunday, May 18, to drive the roads and fields of the Great Meadow Event Center, home of the Virginia Gold Cup.  This drive had been cancelled earlier in the season due to uncooperative weather.  We did not have as many carriages as we had previously planned for because many Members had been lured to England for the Windsor Horse show (and who can blame them for giving in to THAT temptation!).

The tone was set:  leisurely, “go as you please”, so it was the kind of day where participants set their own pace and travelled where they wished.  Views of the race course were magnificent, as were the scenic hills that surround it.  The adjacent “Fleming Farm”, which is comprised of a couple of hundred acres had just been purchased by the Great Meadow Foundation.  Plans are to build a world-class  “three day eventing” venue on that site.  Gates were left open for the Club so we were able to preview the land from our carriages.  We drove through lovely groves of trees and around old corn fields to another open area where we discovered bull dozers and other heavy equipment “at rest”.  Obviously work has already begun to transform this newly acquired land.  Our gracious host, Mr. Robert Banner (Event Manager for Great Meadow) told us to expect additional roads suitable for carriage driving once the project is finished.

In all there were 5 turn-outs:  Caroline Cox drove her “Black Boys” to a wagonette, while husband Carl gave a few pointers in between sips of Champagne.  Tom Wolf, ousted as he was from his own carriage, popped the corks.  Barbara drove “Sheba”, turning the reins over from time to time to Leslie Yarborough.  Lisa Andersen drove “Cloud” to a wagonette brimming over with friends:  Pat Flynn and her daughter Barbara Ferneyhough (both new members to the PDC….Pat is retired from a lifetime of breeding, showing and promoting the “Ragamuffin” cat and Barbara still rides at the Grand Prix level).  No room today for Albert so he rode his impressive 17.3 h. hunter along side the carriage.  Marci Bade drove “Maya” and brought along a friend, Christine Pearson, while Keith set up for the picnic.  The Cox turn-out was happy to welcome back Groom Veronica who just finished her first year at Virginia Tech.  Lead Groom Molly, who as most of you know is a professional photographer in “real life,” spent the better part of the day taking pictures.  Bob Yarborough’s principle duty was to exercise “Dina’, their beautiful and sweet-natured German Shepherd.  For all concerned, whether on or off a carriage, it was a day for simple pursuits and relaxation.  Even on such a day, however, this group managed to work up an appetite.  Eventually a huge circle formed under a shade tree and the table was set.  Marci had grilled spare ribs all evening – just fabulous!  These were accompanied by fried chicken, Lisa’s “secret recipe” coleslaw, Caroline’s broccoli salad, Barbara’s fantastic bean concoction, pimento dip, deviled eggs, homemade potato salad, decadent “brownies-by-Marci” and of course plenty of drink choices.  It was certainly a pleasant way to spend a day in the country!

Innisfree Farm

Once again, Members and guests of the Piedmont Driving Club wrapped up an afternoon of carriage driving and comraderie with CAKE – birthday cake, of course! But allow me to page back through the day, for there is so much more to report, and I’ll get to the cake….

With temps in very agreeable low 80’s, puffy clouds and verdant green as far as one could see, 6 carriages set out to travel the quiet gravel roads from Doug and Queenie’s Innisfree, home to their many chestnut-hued Thoroughbred (yes!) driving horses. There was a plan afoot…..we needed to get Doug off his mower (as he was still “making ready” for company) and AWAY from the property. Queenie insisted that she could manage setting up for the picnic that was to be held in the stable following the drive. Doug never questioned that, why would he? This was Queenie, his wife, life-partner, care-taker of all things great and small (horses, Dalmations, cats and chickens…), and most loyal supporter. We convinced Doug that he could be more useful in the Cox carriage, where he would sit beside Whip Molly Savage as she led the group on a 6.5 mile drive. Carl and Caroline Cox sat in the rear of the wagonnette with Marci Bade’s son and his fiancé while Doug provided commentary on the many estates and points of interest along the way. Following were Barbara and Tom Wolf with ”Sheba” put to a lovely village cart. As usual they were a pleasing picture –

Tom in jacket and tie, Barbara in a spring dress with a lovely hat – but this time they were completely out-classed by Sheba who wore a simple strand of PEARLS around her sleek neck! After all it was Mother’s Day, a time to celebrate feminine pulchritude…

Albert Anderson once again squired his lovely wife Lisa via a cart he restored. “Cloud” responded beautifully to his strong but sensitive hands. Albert, as you may know, spends much of his day fashioning metal into intricate and often delicate shapes. Deb Bauserman and guest were stunningly dapper behind her Hafie gelding. No more struggles for her – with a new trailer that houses both horse AND carriage, she simply slips both out, dons harness, puts to and goes…..! Marci and Keith Bade drove “Maya” to their new carriage and after the rest stop made a switch of passengers, bringing her son and fiancé back to the picnic while Keith joined the Cox carriage. Judy Hahn came again with “Buddy”, her handsome Standardbred/Percheron gelding, strong enough to pull several members of “Team Gleneden” in the Bronson Wagon. They are a pleasure to watch – each has his/her job and the horse is

always the center of attention. They are careful to see he gets what he needs, be it a pat, a rub or a cooling spray when his work is done.

The group travelled together through the quaint village of Unison and up to the top of a very special meadow – special because it was nearly lost to a developer who sought to plant 28 houses there and now, thanks in part to Doug and Queenie, it remains forever in scenic easement. Queenie, Lisa and Marci had conspired earlier to provide us with Mango Mojitos and canapes stuffed with crab and chicken while we rested horses, chatted and savored the view. On certain dates one can observe the sun set in one direction while the moon rises in another – spectacular! After a leisurely trot to Innisfree, we arrived back at the Kemmerer Stable to find that it had been totally transformed. The plan worked! In Doug’s absence, Queenie had managed to string Happy Birthday banners, balloons and decorations throughout. And on the table, of course, was an enormous cake inscribed, “Happy Birthday Doug”. Who knew that this was his 76th birthday????? Well, we all did, but we never let on and he was TOTALLY surprised! There was plenty of food and fun (the standard for a PDC picnic!) but one thing about the venue that made it extra special was Doug and Queenie’s tack room……those who took the time to enter saw a lifetime of carriage adventures depicted in pictures. Doug, as many of us already knew, has experienced more on the box seat (behind single, pair, team and tandem turn outs) than most of us will ever even be able to read about! He is a legend in the art and sport of driving and we of the PDC are honored by the interest he takes in our simple pursuits! Indeed it was a very Happy Birthday for everyone present.

North Wales

A Festival of “Firsts”…. 
There were plenty of “FIRSTS” on this delightful spring day: FIRST time ever that the Club has been invited to drive the beautiful grounds of the North Wales Estate in May.  Previously we have been asked to wait until October, after haying and all crops were harvested. Everything about the day was lovely, with the grounds freshly green from a well-soaked April, and our horses ready for a brisk trot over welcoming roads.  It was, however, WINDY! In all we travelled over 7 miles of the estate, but were reticent to approach the lowlands and the water crossings due to the torrential rains of the past couple of weeks.  
 
 Nice that the Whitestone folks thought to bring along an agile, young proper British groom —   he was better able than most of us to pop off the carriage and retrieve the many hats lost to the relentless breeze (It was the very dapper-looking Tom’s FIRST outing with us as well and we hope to see him often!)  This was also the FIRST time Whitestone’s Mark Duffell brought out his handsome (and formidable!) pair of Paint geldings.  They were a perfectly behaved splash of color, even bigger than his Belgian pair.  Mark drove them to a wagonette full of happy guests: George Lemm, Kirsi Kaiser, Dixie Noffsinger, Nancy Adracsek and Robin Clewes.   Another FIRST came in the form of “Team Gleneden”, new PDC member Judy Hahn’s spectacular turn-out.  Her handsome crossbred gelding was put to a beautifully restored Bronson Wagon and everyone—whip, grooms, horse and carriage were decked-out in matching blue appointments.  Very nice!  Another “FIRST?”  Mary Munster left her Friesian girls at home but she shared reinsmanship duties with Wayne Porter, driving his smooth-moving Chestnut gelding.  Club President Anne Watkins, accompanied by PDC member Kitty Newman and groom Alita, drove the cute and steady “Windsor Greys”.  Despite the wind, Club Vice President Maryalice Matheson managed to school Bob and Leslie Yarborough’s snappy TB/Connemara mares…..with plenty of nicely executed turns, stops and “stand please” in pair harness.   Also a FIRST:  Team Cox’s Lead Groom Molly Savage made her debut as sole whip of the Cox carriage.  She kept the Cox “Black Boys” up in the bridle while Carl continued to nurse his separated shoulder with a few glasses of Champagne and Caroline spent her time in the back of the wagonette trying to keep her hat on her head, her skirt in a respectable place and chatting all the while with the very charming Tom Adracsek, a spill-over guest from the Whitestone carriage.  Not quite a “FIRST”, but happening more and more:  Albert Anderson drove “Cloud” while wife Lisa appeared to concentrate on nothing more than looking relaxed and gorgeous at his side. “Sheba” (and by now you ALL know who she is) demonstrated that she is happy and obedient at the other end of the lines wherever Barbara chooses to place her, thus the Wolfs (Tom and Barbara) presented an elegant picture congruent with the spectacular location. For sure that is NOT a “FIRST” for them, as they can always be counted on to turn out with grace and style!   FIRST, last and in the middle at times, Marci and Keith Bade piloted the ONLY Haflinger of the day (and THAT is another “FIRST” for this Club).  The lovely “Maya” hauled Marci, Keith, and ALL of the food and drink that Keith served so gallantly (despite 30 mph gusts?!) at the rest stop atop the farm.  When we weren’t clutching our hats, spilling Champagne and dropping canapes in our laps, we enjoyed the panoramic view. 
 
 What a great group of horses we have, they stood like statues through it all!  Then “Maya” gamely trotted back to the picnic site where Marci and Keith had stretched out tables laden with marvelous food, flowers and a few heavy LOGS, just to keep everything in place. We were met by the ever-enthusiastic PDC member Teresa Young (and we so look forward to her FIRST club outing with her harness horse!) Fortunately the elegant stable yard of North Wales is quite sheltered from the kind of wind we experienced on other parts of the farm.  Or maybe, with all that fried chicken, lamb, salad, deviled eggs, veggie casseroles, wine, more wine, Marci’s SANGRIA, and a few left-over bottles of Champagne, we simply forgot about the wind?  Finally, and this is hardly a FIRST for this Club. we all gathered to sing Happy Birthday to Club President Anne Watkins!  The whole thing ended, of course, with cake……again, NOT a PDC “FIRST”!