Relatively new to the Club, but hardly to the sport of carriage driving, PDC member Judy Hahn hosted a picnic drive at her Gleneden Farm in Berryville, Virginia. From start to finish, the event was SUPERB! Eight turn-outs participated: Leading the group was Judy Hahn with her bay crossbred gelding, “Buddy”. Leslie and Bob Yarborough drove a lovely bay mare that she also foxhunts, Kitty Newman with “Redwing”, her Farnley pony (also a bay), Marci and Keith Bade with Maya Luv, their Hafflinger mare,
Deb Bauserman with her smooth-moving Haffie, Al and Vicki Batturay with their pair of Haffie’s (do we see a trend here?). But wait, there were a few “dark horses” to round out the group: Mary Munster drove her Friesian girls and Molly Savage drove the Cox “black boys”.
The group travelled through Gleneden (and past a passel of Paint horses!) over to Woodley. For anyone who may not know, Woodley is home to the Blue Ridge Hunt races. It is a pristine estate of over 350 acres and a former home of one of Virginia’s pre-eminent foxhunting families, the Mackay-Smiths. A bit more of the history: Mr. Daniel Sowers bought the land from George Washington’s cousin and built the magnificent main house of pink Flemish bond work. As was typical of early houses built without
benefit of architects, Woodley was likely designed by its owner. It is a fine example of a Georgian house with some Federal conceits (including fanlights, side lights and dentil moldings at the front porch.) The wing was likely built during the Civil War because the brick façade changes from a darker brick to one that is slightly paler. The Civil War would have made it impossible to get bricks and the later shipment was not of the original fabrication. It was in this wing that Alexander Mackay-Smith had his study where he wrote “Foxhunting in North America.” The property boasts 2 generous secondary houses and an eight stall stable that was designed by the Mackay-Smiths to accommodate the hustle of a foxhunting morning. There is also a huge bank barn. This estate remains a working farm to this day.
Woodley is probably best known today as a host site for steeplechase racing, so what a thrill it was for the eight PDC carriages to trot ‘round the mile-plus track! Just before we set off to do that, however, we were treated to a Champagne stop beneath towering shade trees. Who knew that grapes actually taste better when served “kabob” style on sticks, along with chocolate-bottomed macaroons and chocolate covered raisins?!
Back at Gleneden, the happy whips and guests tended to their equines before gathering poolside behind the Hahn’s lovely home. Between the pool and a glistening waterfall we sat to enjoy fried chicken, warm biscuits, salads, more salads, canapes, pie, and Mary Munster’s “cookie sandwiches” (YUM!). There was, of course, a variety of wines and other cool drinks. The Hahn family showed that they are not only avid horse people but very gracious hosts!