EVENING RECEPTION AT HUNGRY RUN FARM…

Matt Neiswanger, supporter and friend to all who love horses, has generously offered the use of his stunning farm and club house to Members of the Piedmont Driving Club, the Old Dominion Hunt and the Old Dominion Pony Club.  There can be no better gift to this local community and no better way to ensure that riding, fox hunting and carriage driving retain their place in our future.

On Saturday, August 5, he invited Members of all three groups to gather for a “meet and greet” at Hungry Run.  Many of us already knew each other and all were happy to be re-acquainted over glasses of wine and unending plates of food.  We moved in/out of the house, around the pool, on the back screened porch and onto the terraced lawn, going from one eager conversation to the next.  Although we engage in quite different equine pursuits, we were linked by the common thread of love for our sports and a deep appreciation for Matt’s contribution to our future fun!

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CARRIAGE QUADRILLE AND BENEFIT FOR THE MIDDLEBURG HUMANE FOUNDATION

BANBURY CROSS POLO GROUNDS, JULY 30, 2017

All members of the Piedmont Driving Club were invited to bring their carriages onto the polo field at Banbury Cross to perform a Carriage Exhibition and simple Quadrille.  While the Club has exhibited carriages previously at Banbury, never before had they attempted formation driving.  It was quickly decided at least one practice session would be necessary and that only those Members who attended that (under the rigorous guidance of Maryalice Matheson-Thomas!) should seek to perform at this event.  As it happened, even with a good practice session, there were a couple of missteps in the performance, but none which were immediately obvious to the appreciative crowd.  Whips who took the brave steps out on the field to “thread the needle” after performing intricate and well-timed circles were:  Red Team with Leader Carl Cox, Mary Munster, Yovani Sandoval, Sam Davis, and Alcinda Hatfield and Blue Team with Leader Mark Duffell, Lisa Andersen, Barbara Wolf, and Tom Albert.

Middleburg Life was on hand to photograph the polo, the Carriage Exhibition and, yes, Gracie the Amazing Mule.  It was hard to compete with a mule that shoots hoops, pushes a baby carriage, blows kisses and can count, add and subtract but we do believe that the horses and ponies of the Piedmont Driving Club did their best!

Lord of Banbury (as we like to think of him) Nelson Gunnell set up a tent and prime seating for the PDC so we could enjoy our picnic and watch some very exciting polo.  Caroline Cox put together a luncheon of fried chicken, salad and snacks with a variety of wine.  Club Members filled the rest of the tables with more salads, summer casseroles and other goodies.

It was a fun day.  Now, back to the drawing board to study new carriage driving formations….???

4MyLuv Farm

  Sunday, July 16, 2017 Members and guests of the Piedmont Driving Club parked trailers under huge shade trees to unload, harness and hitch for a picnic drive from 4MyLuv Farm in Middleburg, Va.  It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm with low humidity.  Our hosts, Brian and Patricia Walker and adjacent land owners Woody and Erika Offutt,  were on hand to greet everyone.  They had invited neighbors to watch the carriages move off.  Champagne flowed from somewhere behind the Cox trailer.  All were jovial, all was well.

But wait!  What was lurking across the lawn, peering out from between the trees?  Did I see a camel? Could that have been a water buffalo?  What about the momma zebra and her baby?  And there was more….an elephant, a bear, a giraffe…YIKES!  With giggles and sly glances, those in the Club who had driven before from this venue looked around to watch any “new comers”.  How would Lil’s pony handle these creatures?  Could Mary steer her unicorn through this unlikely “herd”?  Was Sheba finally over her suspicions?  (Just to be sure, Barbara hand walked her over to as many of the statues as time would allow.  “No problem, Mom, now let’s just hitch to the cart and get out of here!”)

Whenever we meet at the Walkers’ we wonder if they will have added to their collection.  I did see a crocodile, (or could it have been an alligator?) that I’d never noticed before, near the pond.  Fortunately there was no drama as whips, grooms and guests climbed aboard the carriages for what turned out to be a spectacular trot ‘round the countryside.

At the midway point, Kentfield, we were delighted to find a table manned by Queenie Kemmerer who was busily fixing Mimosas and placing cookies and other goodies in baskets.  A long way from Innisfree where we last saw her, how did she get here?   There was no car in sight.  Suddenly a booming voice from under a shade tree: “It is about time you arrived…. we might have finished all of the Champagne!”  And who did we see on the box seat, behind his team of chestnut thoroughbreds, but Honorary Member Doug Kemmerer.   

Picnic host Deb Bauserman had provided all the goodies which the Coxes had placed under a tree before the drive.  Who knew that the Kemmerers would have discovered the stash before we arrived at the rest stop?  We were happy to have them join the group and there was plenty to go around while horses rested in the shade.  Doug led eight carriages back to 4MyLuv.  Before long we were feasting on Deb’s poached salmon and all the delightful accompaniments that had been provided by Club members.

Caroline Collomb and one of her pretty grooms took a dip in the pool.  Several of the male guests tried to figure out who might have been the model for a recumbent statue at poolside.  It seems that the Walkers appreciate art other than the likeness of wild animals!

President Anne Watkins surprised Club founding Member Kitty Newman with Honorary Membership to the Club, a life time award.  Host Brian Walker filled glasses with his signature Bloody Marys to toast the occasion.  It was a perfect end to a delightful day.  

Whips for this drive were:  Carl Cox, Mary Munster, Bertrand Collomb, Caroline Collomb, Lil Jacobs, Barbara Wolf, Anne Watkins, Deb Bauserman and Doug Kemmerer.  Sounding the horn on the Cox carriage was Bobby Dreyer.  

 

 

Innisfree Farm Picnic Drive

There were nine turn-outs in all at the Innisfree Farm picnic drive including TWO unicorns, three pair and four singles.  Yes, host Doug Kemmerer took out three of his well -matched chestnut thoroughbreds, and Mary Munster hitched her three Friesians.  The Baturay and Collomb carriages were pulled by pairs of Haflingers (of course!)  Carl Cox drove his black and tan geldings, Barbara Wolf drove her big black Sheba, Tom Albert drove his very black Lino, Albert Andersen drove his splashy grey Amos, and Alcinda Hatfield drove her butterscotch pony (don’t know the name!)

Doug led the way ‘round a 5-plus mile loop along historic gravel roads.  The scenery was breathtaking, every inch of the way.  Every farm, house and cottage is maintained to perfection with intact stone walls and thoughtful landscaping.  We passed through the tiny village of Unison and up a winding farm road to “Kennedy’s Hill.”  There we stopped for refreshments.  The view from this height was magical in every direction, thanks in part to the Kemmerer’s continuing efforts to lobby for land preservation.

With the help of Queenie and her staff, Caroline Cox distributed Bauchant-infused fresh fruit cups and “lemon drops” with/without Vodka as requested.  Light faire for a fair day to be sure!  With temps in the low 80’s, a slight breeze and NO humidity, it was easy on horses, whips, grooms and guests alike.

Once rested we wound our way down the meadow and past a glistening pond, then it was back onto the gravel road for a leisurely trot to Innisfree.

Somehow, in between putting Doug’s horses to and loading their wagonette, Queenie had managed to transform their stable into an inviting eatery.  She’d arranged a buffet and set out chairs for all.  The tables were over-laden with homemade pulled pork, coleslaw a la Barbara Wolf, delicious stuffed grape leaves, yummy baked beans, ciabatta rolls, Queenie’s signature cheese dollars, and quiche as only the French can make it (I think I already hinted that Caroline Collomb drove with us!)  There was homemade lemonade and plenty of wine (we’re still emptying bottles left over from our Christmas Party).  In all it was quite a feast!

What about dessert?  Isn’t the Piedmont Driving Club known for finishing off every event with something sweet?  Well, how about TWO chocolate sheet cakes: one in celebration of host Doug’s birthday and the other to recognize the significant accomplishments of two treasured members.  Doug and Sam Davis were both elevated to “Honorary Membership” status for their long- time and unwavering dedication to the Piedmont Driving Club.  President Anne Watkins made the presentation.  Congratulations on behalf of the entire Membership!

 

Carriage Day at Banbury Cross

By the kind invitation of Nelson Gunnell, the Piedmont Driving Club was invited to display carriages during a polo match at his Banbury Cross estate in Middleburg, Virginia.  The weather on Sunday, June 25, was perfect for polo, driving and for those who sat and watched both.

Seven turnouts arrived for a drive from Banbury and down a shaded road to Rutledge, home of former PDC member Monica Greenburg and now co owned and managed by her son, Aleco Bravo-Greenburg.   We were privileged to drive over winding lanes of pea gravel, carefully constructed for ease of travel by horses and carriages.  We passed the breathtaking stone mansion (circa 1740) and by the broodmare barn, shops, office and various other buildings.  Eventually we came to a polo field where Caroline Cox had set up a refreshment stop with cups of berries soaked in Bauchant  and rum punch made even more fragrant by a sprig of mint.  Before we were able to indulge, however, Carl Cox reminded everyone that we had agreed to a “carriage exhibition” and that the several hundred people who were assembled to watch polo would be expecting to see us.  What better place to practice our “review” than this empty polo field!  Carl directed whips in the proper way to enter, circle, line up straight (FRONT AXLE to FRONT AXLE, please!) and leave the formation in an orderly fashion.  We worked through it a couple of times and then rewarded ourselves with the treats at the rest stop.

Time to move off, we trotted from Rutledge, through Banbury, down a road and through some woods.  In front of us was another polo field, this one rimmed with a cheering crowd and it was time now to display our carriages.  In we trotted, just as we had practiced.  We lined up, saluted, and Maryalice Matheson-Thomas alighted from the Cox carriage to explain each of our turnouts to the spectators, but NOT before Bobby Dryer had announced us with his coaching horn.  

Whips for this event were Carl Cox, Mary Munster, Mark Duffell, Dr. Tom Albert, Lisa Andersen, Wayne Porter and Barbara Wolf.

Once unhitched and unharnessed, we were invited by Nelson to watch polo.  He graciously offered seats in the shade, access to his open bar and, maybe best of all, LUNCH which consisted of oysters, crab cake sandwiches, lobster rolls, homemade chips  and ice cream.  What more could anyone want???  It was a spectacular day for the Piedmont Driving Club, a chance for us to show who we are and also an opportunity for those Club members who participated to realize how valued we are within this community.

Morven Park Carriage Driving Show June 17 & 18

Two beautiful days brought 7 competitors from the Piedmont Driving Club to the grounds of Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia for the annual Carriage Driving Competition.  Managed by Laura Doyle, this show is recognized by the American Driving Society and brings in the best!

It was a battle from start to finish among the “draft horse types”……Lisa Andersen, Kim Cameron and Deb Bauserman switched placings a few times, but each ended up with either a blue, red or yellow every time they left the ring.  Same was true for the “multiples” classes.  Mary Munster and Dr. Tom Burgess, each driving Friesians, took blue, then red, then blue in Turnout, Reinsmanship and Working classes.  They were neck and neck all day.  Could Tom have had an advantage over Mary because he was showing a pair against her unicorn?  Or, could it have been the other way around?  Either way, both whips and horses performed spectacularly.

Multiple ribbons were won by Dr. Tom Burgess, Kim Cameron, Mary Munster, Lisa Andersen, Deb Bauserman, Wayne Porter and Molly Savage.  Way to go, PDC!!!!!!

Barbara and Tom Wolf, Doug Ward and Vicki and Al Baturay joined the fun on Sunday when the Club went on a picnic drive through the beautiful grounds surrounding the Mansion at Morven Park.  Laura provided a delightful rest stop and lots of pictures were taken.  As has come to be our tradition, an “after glow” party took place under the shade trees overlooking what had been the race track (it is undergoing renovation).  There was plenty of food, drink and congratulations spread around!

For specifics on the show results, please check out the Morven Park website.  And whose photos will you see?  Kim and Mary and Lisa have all made it to the site!

Happy Birthday Drive at Judy Hahn’s Gleneden Farm

June 11, a Sunday, and another great day for the Piedmont Driving Club!  Carriages gathered on the expansive lawn of Gleneden for a trot down the road, over the fields and through the woods to the Shenandoah.  A typical summer day in Virginia, it was a bit muggy but no one seemed to care.  Once we got to the river there was the sound of cool water lapping the shore and a nice breeze through the trees.  This drive was “go as you please” so whips took various routes.  It is nice, and unusual, to have a venue where this is possible!  In all there were about 8 carriages.  Club President Anne Watkins was able to join the group directly from her Kittery Point Farm, as she is a neighbor.

Following the drive, everyone assembled ‘round the pool behind Judy and Bill Hahn’s beautiful home.  Usually to see such landscaping, one would need to visit the gardens at Winterthur or Dumbarton Oaks, but no, it was all here for us to enjoy.  The Hahn’s have created an absolute fantasy land of perennials, annuals, shrubbery and statuary.  

The pot luck picnic luncheon began with fresh berries and ended with a HUGE birthday cake.  In between were sandwiches, ham, fried chicken, salads, casseroles, cheeses, breads, and just about anything else one would care to eat!  The food was un-ending because, in addition to the PDC contributions, the Hahns had invited family and friends.  Again, did I mention the birthday cake?  We were all there to celebrate both Bill and Judy’s birthdays.  No, nobody asked “how old” but probably if added together, we could have put at least 100 candles on the cake???

It was a fun party, long remembered for sure!