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”!