On Saturday, April 15th and Sunday, April 16th, James River Driving Association hosted it’s 2nd Annual Pleasure Drive in conjunction with Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week. For nearly 90 years, the Garden Club of Virginia has presented Historic Garden Week, the nation’s only statewide house and garden tour. People come from all over to attend this beloved springtime tradition. JRDA schedules this drive to add an ambience and highlight these grand plantations tradition and history.
Despite a rainy forecast, the weather cleared just in time for our event. Although a little warmer than usual for April, the humidity was low, there were some lovely breezes blowing off the James River, and the partly cloudy skies made perfect weather for driving.
Eight to ten carriages that drove throughout the weekend. Several Piedmont Driving Club Members were in attendance including Pat McCann, Kathryn Daniels Anderson, Gail Joyce, and Lori Franklin.
On Saturday, the drive started at Berkeley Plantation, circa 1726, and home to the Harrison family. It is the home of two presidents: William Henry Harrison and his grandson Benjamin Harrison. We made several loops around the house to see the slave quarters and magnificent brick mansion. Afterwards, we made our way to Westover Plantation, circa 1730-1750, one of the nation’s earliest colonial tidewater Georgian plantations, which was inspired by the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg, Virginia. We drove past the walled formal gardens, lovely mansion and other surrounding buildings.
On Sunday, we drove out from Shirley Plantation, circa 1723-1738, the oldest active plantation in Virginia and the oldest family-owned business in North America. This mansion has a commanding presence on a gently wooded site on the north bank of the James. We started our drive circling in front of the house and around the many outbuilding in front of the house. Several two-story dwellings that occupied the kitchen and laundry rooms with slave quarters above, stables, smokehouse, storage sheds and a spectacular dovecote, which is a round brick structure used to keep pigeons. We made a loop past several nearby residences including Windleigh, River Run, Upper Shirley Plantation and Upper Shirley Vineyards.
Everyone enjoyed the weekend’s beautiful scenery and being able to come together to participate in the sport we love, carriage driving.
A beautiful day for a drive at Glen Bolton Farm on Wednesday April 12th! The magnificent Shires and carriages of Ayrshire Farm were a delightful addition to the drive down O'bannon Road to the polo fields of Dr and Doris Seagar. Sandy Lerner and Paul Maye had a solid schooling outing with the farm’s young entries. Mary and her Friesians and Pat with her chestnut led the group down the dirt road and back, approximately 7 miles. Sandy Lerner brought a beautiful cobb salad from Hunters Head Tavern for lunch to compliment the chicken and other good stuff provided by Mary. A lot of fun was had by all, and horses got carrots for their after-drive snack.
After Mother Nature demanded we reschedule it, the Annual Bluebell Drive took place on Monday, April 5 under bright blue sunny skies and a carpet of blue at our feet.
Hostess Kitty Newman’s timing was impeccable. The legendary Bluebell display along the Shenandoah River did not disappoint. 5 turnouts went at their own pace & direction, thoroughly enjoying every step through some of Clarke County’s most historic & scenic riverfront farm country.
Kitty arranged a delicious spread in honor of Anne Watkins at her old Kittery Point barn. We all raised a heartfelt toast to the memory of our dear friend. Anne’s cheerful presence was felt by all as we celebrated the arrival of another season of driving as well as a few birthdays in this very special place.
Photos by Lisa Andersen
-Pat McCann drove Tucker with Deb Cohen, guest.
-Mary Munster had her fantastic Friesians out with George Wiltshire.
-Judy Hahn took her brother out to enjoy the gorgeous Spring display with her nice young TB x Percheron, doing very well on just his second time out driving single.
-Al & Vicky Baturay were joined by Kitty Newman with their powerful pair of Haflinger geldings.
-PDC newcomer, Elizabeth Prinz, brought her snappy “Shire Pony” out with a companion mounted on a reliable Dartmoor pony bred at nearby Farnley Farm.
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.