On May 11th, PDC members Mary Munster, Doug and Wendy Ward, and Cindy and Michael Stylianos represented the Northern Virginia driving community at the Saddle Up! Community Horse Fair held at historic Long Branch Farm in Boyce, VA. The club demonstrated the great range and versatility of carriage horses as Mary exhibited her elegant Friesian four-in-hand, Doug Ward and Wendy Bryant executed a drive-and-ride with their stalwart gelding Red, and Michael and Cindy drove their miniature cones speedster Fiona, who also shared petting duties with her son Slartybartfast. In spite of threats of rain, the fair was well attended and had a number of enjoyable horse and hound presentations, notably the puppies of Nantucket-Treweryn Beagles, who brought an infectious energy and enthusiasm to the grounds. It turned out to be a great day and a great opportunity to introduce other equine enthusiasts to carriage driving and the PDC.
For the fourth time this year, the day of a scheduled Piedmont drive was preceded by a night of rain that fortuitously yielded to morning sunshine, cool breezes, and a sky filled with slow drifting clouds. Thank goodness, because this weekend’s event showcased what may well be the most dynamic driving venue in Northern Virginia.
Twelve vehicles, led by High Meadow Manor Farm’s owner and host Matt Neiswanger and his stylish Polish Victoria, set out from the main estate and vineyard onto a newly installed driving trail nearly five miles in length. First running along the pasture fences where polled Herefords grazed contentedly, the road rose to field crests where dazzling views of the Shenandoah foothills appeared. The trail then dipped into deep forest, winding through towering trees along the path of a gently flowing creek and old stone fence, wildflowers in full bloom everywhere. Whips navigated a water crossing on the way into the woods, passing through a covered bridge midway along the route.
A rest stop was taken along the banks near the confluence of the Jordan and Rappahannock Rivers. Participants enjoyed freshly baked hors d’oeuvres and refreshments before taking up the lines for the return, concluding with a lap around The Manor’s stately drive.
After the horses were unhitched and tended to, everyone assembled at the nearby guest house. There, PDC Treasurer Cindy Stylianos set out a lavish Greek feast in honor of Orthodox Easter, supplemented by help and culinary contributions from other club members.
With sincere thanks to Matt, his farm staff, and all attending PDC members and their guests, it was a day of incredible experiences, festivity, and fellowship.
As has been the pattern so far this year, a cold, wet day of rain was followed by a weekend of near perfect weather for a carriage drive. So on April 20th, the Shenandoah River was swollen to its banks, the bluebells were in full bloom, and nearly a dozen Piedmont Driving Club vehicles mustered at host Kittery Point Farm in Berryville, VA for a “go-as-you-please” romp through the Clarke County countryside.
Following the drive, a festive atmosphere prevailed as members and guests enjoyed a traditional pot luck dinner and refreshments at the barn, where PDC President Mary Munster took the opportunity to announce the induction of Carl and Caroline Cox as new honorary lifetime members. Thanks to everyone who participated and contributed to the excellent meal and camaraderie.
After an early morning scare of rain, near ideal weather greeted whips for a beautiful country drive at Salem Farm. Six vehicles traversed more than three miles of rolling dirt roads through beautiful Northern Virginia countryside in full Spring bloom. As is tradition for this club, the drive was followed by a lovely communal dinner of bourbon maple-glazed pork, roasted potatoes, garlic infused green beans, and salad, followed by cake to celebrate the birthday of the drive’s co-host, Mary Munster. A special shout out to co-host Barbara Wolf for coordinating the venue and logistics support.
PDC opened its 2019 driving season with an unconventional and exciting change of pace, holding a driven gymkhana at Chetwood Park in The Plains on Sunday, March 18th. The cool but sunny day featured barrel racing, pole bending, a doorway (keyhole) race, and a “Simon Says” competition. In addition to being great fun for all the participants, these events provided both whips and equines the opportunity to exercise their physical and mental agility in navigating the various courses. Drivers and vehicles included Faye Brewster with a hyper-bike pulled by a spunky VSE, Theresa Young and Seppo Karkkainen in a marathon cart debuting their 5-year old Friesian mare, and Mary Munster and Tulio Farfan in a four-wheel marathon featuring Mary’s Friesian four-in-hand. The ring work was followed by a traditional St Patrick’s Day dinner of corned beef and cabbage prepared by Cindy Stylianos, accompanied by a few select Irish “refreshments” (heh heh). Sharing in the fellowship were Doris Seager, Lil Jacobs, Christiane Ferland, Barbara Wolf, and Wayne Porter, as well as retired PDC members Carl and Caroline Cox. The afternoon concluded with a presentation of ribbons and prizes of Guinness 6-packs to the drivers with the fastest and slowest times. A special thanks to the Seager Family for use of their exceptional facilities.
It was a perfect day to kick-off the first formal 2018 Piedmont Picnic Drive.
George Lemm and Mark Duffell hosted the picnic drive from the seven-hundred-acre Whitestone Farm in Aldie, Va.
It was a beautiful sunny day and five turnouts traveled a six-mile route filled with beautiful hunt country scenery and Angus cattle. The first sites of the drive were at Whitestone Farm which included the historical Virginia fieldstone homestead known as Cherry Hill, circa 1749. The route continued down Snickersville Turnpike as the carriages trotted the paved road where they were greeted by numerous delighted passers-by, waving and taking pictures of the PDC caravan. The drive slowed after turning onto Carters Farm Lane, which was lined with lovely horse farms and bursting with spring blossoms of pink, purple and yellow. At the end of the two-mile unpaved road, the group stopped mid-point to rest at the Banberry Cross Polo field. A breeze across the field kept the stop enjoyable– especially for the horses. Tea, champagne, and cucumber sandwiches were served and after 30 minutes, the horses were ready to resume. Laughter and chatter could be heard floating through the air as the carriages meandered at a leisurely pace towards Whitestone.
After the two-hour drive, everyone gathered in the Whitestone Farm party room for a delicious potluck lunch and more fellowship.
The Whitestone Farm carriage led the way, driven by Mark Duffell. Lisa Anderson co-piloted and also drove the Belgian drafts, brother’s Willie and Waylon. In the carriage were four guests, including PDC member George Lemm.
Mary Munster made her inaugural four-in-hand drive with her Frisians, assisted by Bobby Dryer and his famous coaching horn, Tulio the Groom and Monroe the Great Dane. She drove her Van Den Heuvel Presentation carriage.
Lil Jacobs turnout included her BH Flyer pulled by the Spanish polo pony, Elian. She was joined by her husband Smoky.
PDC President Anne Watkins drove her CMS Eagle with her crossbred horse, Czar. In her carriage was PDC Secretary Pat McCann and groom Dennis.
Doug Ward, PDC Vice President drove a Roadster Cart pulled by Red, his draft cross. He was joined by his girlfriend Wendy Bryant.
A special thanks to Mark Duffell and George Lemm for hosting and to Pat McCann and Laura McGhee and the Whitestone Staff for assisting in the safety of the drive and rest stop refreshments.
Photos courtesy of: Laura McGhee
Written By: Mark Duffell
Our eloquent blog writer Caroline Cox has stepped down from her post as official PDC blog author. Her enormous contribution to the club over the past many years is greatly appreciated by all of us. We wish her the very best and look forward to seeing her at future club events. It is our hope that one of our club members and readers may be interested in filling this tireless but important role to share the exciting happenings of America’s most active driving club.