equestrian

67th ANNUAL VIRGINIA FALL RACES WILL RUN THIS OCTOBER

MIDDLEBURG, VA — The 67th annual Virginia Fall Races will run on Saturday, October 9, 2021, at Glenwood Park in Middleburg, VA. Gates open at 8:00 am and post time for the first race is 1:00 pm.

Witness the nation’s best steeplechase horses and riders as they contend for total purse money of $110,000 over the pristine turf course at Glenwood Park, which offers the best view in jump racing, amongst the century-old oaks of the Virginia countryside.

The $30,000 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup returns as the day’s marquee race, a timber race run over three and one-quarter miles. New this year is the addition of the $25,000 Magalen O. Bryant Memorial, run in memory of Mrs. Magalen O. Bryant, an entrepreneur, conservationist, and staunch supporter of thoroughbred racing in the US and Europe. For decades, a loyal advocate and friend of the community, Mrs. Bryant’s family continues her grand legacy at the Virginia Fall Races.

Photo by Douglas Lees

Spectators are encouraged to arrive early and behold the excitement and pageantry of the Theodora A. Randolph North American Field Hunter Championship Final, which kicks off at 9:00 am. Foxhunting enthusiasts from across the country will compete for the title and $4,000 in prize money.

General Admission and Reserved Parking arrangements can be made by calling the Race Office at (540) 687-9797 or emailing the Secretary at secretary@vafallraces.com. Race day General Admission is $50.00 CASH ONLY per car (admits one vehicle and four occupants). More information is available on www.vafallraces.com as well as Facebook and Instagram.

The Virginia Fall Races has run at Glenwood Park in Middleburg since 1955.  All proceeds from the race weekend benefit the INOVA Loudoun Hospital Foundation in nearby Leesburg, Virginia. Virginia Fall Races has consistently contributed more money to the foundation than any other sporting event.

##

Virginians Head To The Olympics With A Village of Support

GOING FOR GOLD:

Virginians Head To The Olympics

With A Village of Support

Written by Kaitlin Hill

“To see your flag and hear your national anthem, there is nothing else like that,” Bonnie Jenkins, Executive Director of the United States Equestrian Teams Foundation (USET), says. “And I think any athlete would agree. To bring medals home for your country, it’s pretty special.”

Jenkins and the USET Foundation’s Chairman, President, and CEO, Jim McNerney, believe reaching that golden opportunity of success in elite equestrian competition requires early development, complete dedication, effective financial support, and a heavy dose of patriotism. With all eyes on the Tokyo Olympics, Jenkins, McNerney, and familiar equestrian figures Laura Kraut, Robert Ridland, and Joe Fargis, share how the USET Foundation plays a fundamental role in Team USA’s perpetual preparation for this year’s summer games and beyond.

2017 Winning Team USA Laura Kraut, Lillie Keenan, Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, Lauren Hough, and Elizabeth Madden Photo Tony Parkes

Best described as the philanthropic partner of US Equestrian Teams, the USET Foundation was established in 2003 with a fixed focus on fundraising. “At the time USET, which had always done the fundraising, transitioned into a formal foundation to continue the fundraising work for high performance,” Jenkins says.

“The first reason to split the two, the management of the teams, athletes, and the horses from the fundraising, is you get a more professional job from each,” McNerney says. “You get two boards and more people involved. The second reason for the split … is it became a better governance standard.”

The repositioning of US Equestrian and USET Foundation created clear objectives for each side while retaining a close working relationship with positive results. “The proof is in the pudding,” McNerney says. “The fundraising has more than doubled on a yearly grant basis and is continuing to grow. It has the virtue of being both good governance and more effective.”

“It’s a great relationship and it serves the sport very well,” Jenkins says.

USET Foundation is the largest financial backer for US Equestrian, helping underwrite the long journey from youth development to elite status in the eight international disciplines: dressage, eventing, jumping, driving, endurance, reining, para-equestrian, and vaulting.

That road begins with providing the financial support to develop young riders, a part of the Foundation’s work that McNerney describes as “critical. Maybe the most important thing we do.”

As an athlete in the 1976 Olympic Games and current US Show Jumping Chef d’Equi- pe, Robert Ridland has seen his share of rider development and explains how the USET Foundation-funded Pathway Program, for example, is an essential element.

“These riders and these horses are part of a long process,” Ridland says. “The major function of the program is the pathway to get there for younger riders of various levels … We aren’t only supporting top riders, we are preparing the riders for the next championship and the next competition. If we are not invigorating that pathway of athletes that are going to be competing in the Olympics seven years from now, we aren’t doing our job.”

“The USET Foundation’s support of the Pathway Program develops the athletes and develops the sport to make us more competitive,” McNerney says. Becoming more competitive is “all-consuming,” Joe Fargis explains, a 1984 Olympic Show Jumping Gold Medalist and Middle- burg resident. “It’s constant and as repetitive as practice can be,” he says. “You have to immerse yourself in it if you want to get better. It takes all day long, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

With nearly four decades in equestrian competition under her belt, a recent second place in the Rome Grand Prix, with Tokyo on her horizon, Laura Kraut has certainly put in the time and experienced firsthand the support provided by USET Foundation funding over a long career.

“When you’re at the level of competing internationally and jumping for the United States, [the Foundation] is there in every way,” she shares. “Support staff with logistics, veterinarians, team physios, they are there from start to finish making it as pain-free as possible so the athlete can concentrate on what they need to do.”

A major part of the Olympics or any competition is taking care of horses in transit, a task that requires a huge logistical effort and serious funding. “A lot of our funding is to make sure those horses fly comfortably and safely with their veterinarians,” Jenkins says. “These horses are top athletes too. And then with eight disciplines, it’s not just a show jumping team. You could have eight teams going abroad to represent us.”

Kraut shares that USET Foundation’s financial aid sets the US apart in a big way. “I think we are the envy of the international jumping world … We are very fortunate that the people helping us are fantastic, and in the end, it really makes a difference.”

“It takes an awful lot of preparation in your life and in your team’s life,” Ridland says. “And of course, it is a parallel path for the horse as well. That is where the USET Foundation comes in … Many countries have their Olympics subsidized by government subsidies and we don’t. We couldn’t exist without the USET Foundation.”

Much more than dollars and cents, the fundraising efforts of the USET Foundation speak to a uniquely American patriotism and a camaraderie in the equestrian community.

“Our support is sort of grassroots by its virtue, and by the efforts of Bonnie and the board, it engenders a team effort,” McNerney says. This fashion of fundraising not only builds a team dynamic, it also creates a unique life cycle for the athletes and highlights a personal bond shared by many of the donors.

“When you have to go out and find the money, you not only appreciate it, like in the case of Laura, [you take] advantage of it,” McNerney says. “And there’s this life cycle that when she gets to the top, she wants to reach back because she knows there are others embarking on the same journey she was on, and that it wasn’t easy. I don’t want to say that team dynamic doesn’t exist in other countries, but it exists for sure in Americans, both horizontally at any event and vertically [between] generations.”

Passion for the sport combined with patriotism breeds a special connection for the donors as well. “Most of our major donors have either participated themselves in the sport at some stage in their lives, have family involvement, or own the horses themselves. There is almost always a connection,” McNerney says.

“I would put patriotism near the top of the list for donor motivation,” Jenkins says.“Not just in the major gifts program, but also our annual support program. They are truly part of the team too.”

Patriotism is perhaps most apparent during an Olympic year, but Ridland, Kraut, Jenkins, and McNerney agree focusing on the future is equally important for a sport that never stops moving. “It’s a never-ending cycle in a very exciting way … It is fascinating to see where the sport was, where it is and where it will go,” Ridland says. “And we take our roles seriously as stewards of the sport, to put it in a better place 20 or 30 years from now.”

As the sport progresses, so too must the financial support, never losing sight of that patriotism. “Because the future is constant, the requirement is constant,” McNerney says. “There’s an arms race on all those things that add up to competitiveness.”

To cushion that constant change, the USET Foundation is building up its endowment in addition to the cyclical nature of giving that supports annual competitions and training. “Bonnie is really focused on creating and strengthening our endowment, which is stretched out over multiple years,” McNerney says. “That enables us to get through rough spots.”

According to Jenkins, McNerney’s role is key as well. “As our leader, Jim has been on the frontlines of building that endowment, which has made a huge difference to the organization. It’s now at 20 million. When Jim started, it was closer to six million. That was a huge achievement.”

Wherever the contribution is directed, whether it be annual giving for a particular discipline or toward the endowment benefiting the whole team for years to come, every penny counts. “I don’t think Bonnie or I want to create the impression that the smaller or medium-sized gifts aren’t critically important,” McNerney says. “They are. We equally celebrate and appreciate all levels of donors because they bring the same patriotism and love of the sport. It all adds up, making the country better in the sport.”

And many of those donations, big and small, come from the Middleburg area. A few loyal friends of note include Jacque- line B. Mars of The Plains, and Honorary Life Trustee of USET, Sheila Johnson, whose daughter, Paige, won USET’s Maxine Beard Award. Finally, Barbara and David Roux of St. Bride’s Farm who are not only supporters of the Foundation but also own Laura Kraut’s horses, Baloutine and Confu. Laura Kraut will be riding Baloutine at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Laura Kraut /Image, Stefano Secchi, 88° CSIO Roma Piazza di Siena 2021

“The Middleburg connection to our sport is a big deal,” McNerney says. “There’s a deep cultural connection to the sport, and a number of wonderful supporters live in Middleburg.”

For Tokyo and beyond, it is obvious that the support of the USET Foundation is the secret of the team’s success. From creating opportunities for youth riders, funding domestic and international competition preparation, and building an endowment to secure the sport’s future, Kraut and Ridland describe the Foundation’s purpose best.

“USET Foundation helps us have that camaraderie, and they make us feel like we are doing something important,” Kraut says. “This is a very individual sport … but they make us realize that there is more to the sport than just being an individual. And there is a lot to be said for being part of a team and winning on the international stage.”

“I can’t emphasize enough how crucial the Foundation is to us being able to compete at the highest level of our sport,” Ridland says. “And we as Americans are privileged to have the Foundation leading the way.” ML

The USET Foundation was established in 2003 as a not-for-profit Section 501(c)(3). It is a separate organization from US Equestrian, the National Governing Body, and serves as its philanthropic partner. The Foundation’s mission is to raise tax-deductible contributions to support the nation’s High-Performance athletes and horses through grants made to US Equestrians. Donations may be made through uset.org.

US Equestrian develops, selects, equips, promotes, and manages US equestrian teams, as well as provides funding through corporate sponsorship, membership dues and fees, and USOPC support.

Great Meadow International —Something for Everyone: Equestrians, Spectators, even the Family Dog

By Heidi Baumstark
Photography by Sienna Turecamo

Great Meadow International, a four-day equestrian event, will bring the hills fully alive August 22-25 at Great Meadow in The Plains. Now in its fifth season, this annual event offers three levels of international competition featuring Olympic-level riders and horses in what can be described as an equestrian triathlon (dressage, show jumping, and cross-country).

But this year, Great Meadow International (GMI) has broadened its vision from its first event in 2015. Five Rings Eventing (FRE), founded by Darrin Mollett of Beverly Equestrian and Olympian David O’Connor, is a high-performance event organizer and management company that has led the competition side of GMI since its inception; but this year, Five Rings is managing all aspects of the event. Mollett added, “Our vision for 2019 is to produce a festival atmosphere to enhance the spectator experience and the community flavor of our event. We’ll be a family-friendly, country festival with a special focus on everyone’s best friend—dogs.”

In honor of Mars Great Meadow International in August, the Middleburg Life July cover features Olympic-level athletes, the organizer of Mars GMI and Middleburg Humane Foundation’s K-9s in support of this year’s enhanced spectator and community experience at GMI.

Another change this year is increasing the GMI from a three-day to a four-day event, which will include a fall festival featuring Meadow Market, a charming vendor village with a beer garden, a tent where people can cool off, local food trucks, live music, and entertainment. Organizers are planning for dogs, too, including demonstrations, dog agility activities, and canine treats. There will be a large tent open to everyone overlooking the main arena. Guests can take their food there and get out of the sun. Nearby will be the Mars VIP Hospitality Pavilion for guests who prefer all-inclusive dining and a full-service bar in a private setting; tables and half-tables are on sale for this pavilion venue. For those who want to be close to the action, a variety of tailgates and ringside boxes are available with a cash bar and access to local food trucks.

Athletes on the cover include Karen O’Connor and Lynn Symansky, Mars GMI organizer Darrin Mollett, and adoptive pets from MHF.

Mars Equestrian™, a division of Mars, Incorporated, is this year’s title sponsor, which falls in line with the organization’s canine focus including dog food and treats. A statement from Dr. Bridgett McIntosh, Director of Mars Equestrian™, confirms their support, “Offering multiple levels of [equestrian] competition in a community-focused event, with pet-friendly activities for fans, creates the ideal intersection for Mars, Incorporated’s diverse portfolio of brands. Ultimately, the partnership with GMI is central to our purpose to improve the lives of horses, pets, and the people who love them.”

The equestrian competition portion of GMI has also expanded in scope. With an expected attendance of 200 horse/rider combinations across the three levels of international competition (dressage, show jumping, and cross-country), this number is up from 35-45 in previous years.

Mollett said the event includes the term “International” because it’s an international level of competition for all three levels, which includes dressage on Thursday and Friday, show jumping on Saturday, and cross-country on Sunday. “We moved the event from July to August so competitors could prepare for their fall championships; it’s meant to benefit the rider. And the racecourse has amazing footing and a new irrigation system. Plus, we’ll have so much more for the community,” Mollett explained. The rule of thumb is that competitors bring three to four connections. In past years, thousands have come. With over 200 horses/riders expected, scores of spectators will be attracted, plus owners, riders, trainers, and horse enthusiasts from across the country.

Clothing styled by Tully Rector.
https://www.facebook.com/TullyRector/

FRE’s organizing committee is an all-volunteer group. One volunteer, Max Corcoran, has been on the committee since the beginning. She said, “In previous years, there was just the highest level of the competition; but this year, we’ll have the next level—the intermediate/preliminary level—which opens it up to more riders. There will be different countries represented; we’ll see Canadians, riders from Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, England, and Ireland. They’ve come to compete, to ride for their country. It’s such a beautiful facility and a great excuse to come out and enjoy time in the country—not just for riders but for everyone.”

Pet collars & leashes: Loyal Companion
https://loyalcompanion.com/

Plans are on track for a portion of GMI’s proceeds to benefit non-profit partners, including the Pedigree Foundation (the non-profit leg of Mars) and the local Middleburg Humane Foundation, which operates a farm shelter in Marshall, Virginia for abused or neglected animals.

For over 30 years, literally millions have come to events at Great Meadow drawn by its natural splendor, a 380-acre field events center and steeplechase course among the backdrop of the rolling Bull Run Mountain range. It began with the Virginia Gold Cup held every May and grew from there. Today, it is home to a laundry list of greats including the International Gold Cup Races in October, Saturday night Twilight Polo from May through September, the Twilight Jumper series on select Friday summer nights, and home to the popular Fourth of July Celebration. It is also the site of public astronomy events hosted by the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club, Team America Rocketry Challenge, and is a favorite pick for seasonal trail rides, weddings, and other community events.

Dog food: Mars Petcare 
https://www.mars.com/made-by-mars/petcare

But back in 1982, the property known as Fleming Farm was a failing dairy farm. The late Arthur W. “Nick” Arundel (1928-2011), news executive and philanthropist, spotted the property, which was slated for sale, ready to be turned into a large housing development. But Arundel purchased the property, envisioning a preservation of open space for the permanent home for the annual Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase, and to showcase one of Virginia’s most beautiful natural resources. He donated the farm that would become Great Meadow, stewarded by the Great Meadow Foundation, which was first established in 1984 as the Meadows Outdoor Foundation and renamed Great Meadow Foundation in 1996.

Hair and Makeup by Salon Emage Day Spa
https://salonemage.com/
Location: Beverly Equestrian
http://www.beverlyequestrian.com/

Thanks to the initial vision of Arundel—and since then many more—friends still meet at Great Meadow to celebrate the preservation of this sweeping space and the entertainment it brings. Mollett ended, “And GMI is live-streamed on multiple platforms.” So now even more people can catch the vision of this international event and the wonder of Great Meadow as its prized venue.

GMI tickets include general parking and admission to the venue and Meadow Market. For more information and to purchase tickets, tables, etc., visit www.greatmeadowinternational.com. Great Meadow in The Plains is located at 5089 Old Tavern Road; the phone number is 540-253-9845 and the website is www.greatmeadow.org.

Photoshoot credits:

Pet collars & leashes: Loyal Companion @loyalcompanionpets https://loyalcompanion.com/; Clothing: Tully Rector @tullyrector https://www.facebook.com/TullyRector/; Dog food: Mars Petcare https://www.mars.com/made-by-mars/petcare @mars_petcare; Hair and Makeup: Salon Emage Day Spa @salonemagedayspa https://salonemage.com/;
Photography: Sienna Turecamo @siennaturecamophotography; Location: Beverly Equestrian @beverlyequestrian http://www.beverlyequestrian.com; Cover pets: @middleburghumanefoundation http://www.middleburghumane.org

This article first appeared in the July 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.

Unbranded, A Wild Mustang Expedition

SIXTEEN MUSTANGS + FOUR MEN = ONE DREAM

Enjoy a special screening of Unbranded: A Wild Mustang Expedition at the Long Branch Historic House & Farm in Boyce, Virginia from 6-9 p.m. on June 21. 

 The documentary tracks four fresh-out-of-college buddies as they take on wild mustangs to be their trusted mounts, and set out on the adventure of a lifetime. Sixteen mustangs, four men, one dream: to ride border to border, Mexico to Canada, up the spine of the American West. Their wildness of spirit, in both man and horse, is quickly dwarfed by the wilderness they must navigate: a 3,000-mile gauntlet that is equally indescribable and unforgiving.

A special equineart show and history exhibit accompany the event and a wine reception proceeds the film. Presented in collaboration with Long Branch and sponsored by TDC Investment Advisors. Tickets are $10 in advance / $15 at door. Go to visitlongbranch.org for more information.

Prioritize Strength in 2019: It’s about time

By Laura Crump Anderson

Fitness should be a year-round goal, not something we do when we are motivated by our New Year’s resolutions in January.

Health and wellness come from a balanced, but targeted approach to life – whether you ride horses or are regular ‘desk jockey.’ As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass, which is associated with increased health risks.
Regular strength training sessions is the best way to defend and increase muscle mass.

Equestrians have the incredibly demanding task of communicating nonverbally with an animal that weighs 1,500 pounds. Whether the job is to ride a dressage test with precision, jump around a quick but challenging show jumping course, steer a polo pony and setup a shot, gallop across a field with the hunt, turn a cutting horse, or withstand the endurance and the technicality of cross country. Riders are athletes that have a strenuous job every time they sit on a horse. However, unlike in other sports, riders rarely train outside their field.

Equestrian Fitness Specialists Cameron Rouse and Laura Crump Anderson help riders learn the importance of regular strength training. Photo by Nicole Gustavson.

Exercise, outside of the saddle, is not just important for those performing at the top level of equestrian sports, it is essential for anyone looking to become a better rider or live a healthier life. Times are changing, and one will notice that more professionals are addressing their strength, flexibility, and endurance outside of the saddle to improve their ability to be effective when it matters. This additional fitness is not only important for competitions and events, but also during training rides. It requires a lot of skill, as well as fitness, for a rider to look like they are barely doing anything at all.

All horse and rider pairs are constantly learning from one another. The equestrian struggling with their own fitness will be less successful than when they are fresh, with or without a coach on the ground. Working through the struggle to achieve success, is what makes good riders great. However, there is a point when the struggle becomes more of detriment to the pair then a positive learning experience, and this is where strength training can lead to a difference.

While recovering from a significant, horse-related spinal injury, Dave Moyes of Hamilton, Virginia started strength training and noticed a difference after just four hours of strength training over a three-
month period.

“I had lost core strength and I was not able to ride the same way that I used to be able. I am a foxhunter, a master of foxhunting, so I have a responsibility to stay out there… the strength improvements were immediate, and I felt the strength in my legs and core, and my horse noticed the difference.” Dave continued, “For me, time is a major thing. Going to a gym, changing clothes, working out, [and then] showering can take all afternoon. This [program] concentrates things into a matter of 20 minutes.”

Strength training should be a priority every week throughout the year, because it provides the most bang for the buck when it comes to fitness.
Strength training builds muscle that prevents injury, improves core strength and stability, boosts the metabolism, and increases energy and endurance. Putting muscle on our bodies is the best way to prevent the natural atrophy that occurs with age.

If going to the gym for training is difficult, the gym can come to you. Writer Laura Crump Anderson on the InForm Fitness Mobile Gym chest press machine with her colleague, Cameron Rouse, coaching her. Photo by Nicole Gustavson.

The first thing many people notice after implementing a strength training program is an increase in energy. Riders should not expect to become stronger in their aids, but quite the opposite. Strength training allows a rider to fine tune their aids, because they are able to maintain their form. By training off the horse, riders develop improved control of their essential core muscles (without interference from the horse’s movement). This leads to an improved ability to correctly apply aids in the tack, because the horse is not trying to decode the white noise that comes from a weak seat. Strength training has a beneficial impact on one’s galloping position and sitting trot, much more so than running or getting on an exercise bike.

“The temptation to train when they should be recovering drives far too many athletes. This proclivity underscores the importance for athletes… of understanding the stimulus-response relationship of exercise. Guided by this knowledge, they can preview the upcoming schedule, isolate out the competition days, and then institute the proper strategy, including rest, necessary to ensure that they arrive for the event fully recovered…What this means is that in a competitive season, physical conditioning workouts may need to be performed very infrequently. High-intensity workouts that are performed to positive failure to stimulate a positive adaptation may have to be postponed…Above all, athletes should do nothing to make themselves weaker or set themselves up for a career-ending injury.”
-Dr. Doug McGuff, Author of “Body by Science”

Although not all strength training programs are created equal, slow motion strength training is both safe and efficient. Force is the leading cause of injury in exercise. By greatly reducing the acceleration in an exercise, you reduce the amount of force that goes into the motion, therefore greatly reducing the chance of injury. By moving slowly, the individual can be mindful of movements that cause pain and modify the exercise accordingly.

Secondly, you take momentum out of the equation, requiring the muscle to do more work through the range of motion to move the weight. This leads to a greater intensity in the exercise, and a point of momentary muscle failure, because the person will not have to do multiple sets to achieve physiological adaptation or get the desired results.

Training slow means that one will not have to train as often. As equestrians and/or business professionals, schedules are demanding, and time is not easily traded for something else. However, strength training enables people to do the activities that give their life purpose.

Laura Crump Anderson and the InForm Fitness Mobile Gym. Photo by Nicole Gustavson.

Laura Crump Anderson is a Loudoun County native who grew up immersed in the horse country, jumping on every opportunity to work with horses. By her teenage years, Laura suffered from an overtraining injury, without ever setting foot in the gym. Through physical therapy, Laura discovered that exercise was the key to getting back in the tack and has since dedicated her life to teaching riders the importance of treating oneself like the athlete she regarded the horse to be.

Laura holds a degree in exercise science, with a concentration in kinesiology, is an ACSM certified personal trainer, a 200-hour certified yoga teacher, and specializes in the Power of 10 high intensity, slow motion strength training protocol. She is the Equestrian Fitness Specialist at InForm Fitness Leesburg and Reston, and serves as the current Chair of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce Health and Wellness Committee.

This article first appeared in the January 2019 Issue of Middleburg Life.

Orange County Hounds Team Chase

By Helen Brettell | Photos by Joanne Maisano

Orange County Hounds held their annual Team Chase at Old Whitewood Farm in The Plains on Sunday, Oct. 28. Despite rain the day before, the ground dried up enough for superb going on Mark and Karin Ohrstrom’s beautiful farm. Although a cold wind greeted the early comers, by afternoon the sun came out to warm the many hardy onlookers for the championship.

Hilltopper pairs kicked off the proceedings with Jane Quilter and Annabel Bybee winning the best turned out. Mo Baptiste and Boyden Rohner pleased the judges with their smooth round to clinch the best Hilltopper pair round the course.

 

In the afternoon, the First Flight teams tackled the 19 natural hunt jumps after George Kuk, Devon Zebrovious and Maureen Britell, representing Piedmont Foxhounds, won the best turned out prize. The prize for best Hunt Team went to Nina Fout, Helen Hickson and Caroline Fout from Middleburg-Orange County ( MOC) Beagles.

Throughout the event, the four judges had selected those horses which would come forward for the final test to decide the First Flight Junior Champion and the First Flight Hunter Champion. The Junior division was a tightly contested affair with Morgan Botto on Distant Strike from the MOC Beagles winning with Flora Hannum on Snickers as reserve.

Kristin Dillon-Johnson from Piedmont Fox Hounds (PFH) and Nina Fout from Orange County Hounds (OCH) have both won the coveted perpetual challenge trophy, donated in memory of Alfred Hunt, on at least two occasions and this time Kristin on Smooth Jazz came out on top to become the 2018 First Flight Champion.

 

This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Middleburg Life.

A Look Back at the 2018 International Gold Cup

Photos by John Scott Nelson Photography

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these riders from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. While the International Gold Cup like the United States Postal Service has no official motto, the die hard Gold Cup fans could steal the postal workers motto for this October’s event.

Despite the not so cheery weather, fans donned their best hats and put on their smiling faces to brave the damp weather and enjoy what turned out to be an exciting day at Great Meadows on Saturday, Oct. 27.The lush green grass was a bit wet and made for some muddy boots, but the steeplechase races went on and the horses didn’t seem to mind. The day didn’t go to the dogs. However, the entertaining Terrier Races in the paddock did start the day and grabbed everyone’s attention. 

This article first appeared in the December 2018 Issue of Middleburg Life.

 

The Season Begins: Formal Fox Hunting Around Our Town

Photos by Joanne Maisano

The start of formal fox hunting began the first week of November. Weather conditions varied between windy and cold to a steady rain but that didn’t stop the die hard fox hunters.

Piedmont Fox Hounds Opening meet at Oakley farm Whip Johnny Dean, huntsman, Jordan Hicks and whip Michelle St. Onge.

Just as important as having the right horse is having the right look for the formal hunts. Middleburg Life photographer Joanne Maisano donned her boots to be there so we could share these with you.

Middleburg Hunt huntsman Richard Roberts moving off from Mortgage Hall.

Here are a few shots from local fox hunt meets around the area. Huntsmen in their scarlet coats are always a handsome sight to see.

Huntsman Reg Spreadborough of Orange County Hounds at Opening meet

The Joint Masters and members braved the elements in style in their formal attire.

Huntsman of Blue Ridge Hunt Graham Buston.

This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Middleburg Life.

Meet Middleburg: Punkin Lee, Leather Goods Designer

Story and photo by Kerry Phelps Dale

She’s as Middleburg as they come. Punkin Lee has lived all but a few years of her life in the Middleburg community. After graduating Hill School, she lived away from her hometown only to attend high school at St. Catherine’s in Richmond followed by two years at Centenary University in New Jersey, then graduating college at Florida State University.

As a child she always had horses of her own. “I had two ponies to take care of before I went to school. I would ride one before school and when I’d come home I’d ride the other one.”

“We would ride all weekend, riding wherever,” says Punkin about the way she and her friends spent their spare time. “We would ride over to somebody’s house, pick up somebody else, ride into town. You didn’t come down the road, you would just cut through farms.”

“When I was home from high school and college, I’d ride a horse during my lunch break and jump in with the hunt and then drop out and go back to work,” recalls Punkin who also fox hunted and showed horses. Clearly, the town has changed over the years, “It’s gotten bigger and busier.” But the reason Punkin has made Middleburg her lifelong home is the one thing that’s remained the same. “Community. It’s a great place to live if you get involved in things.”

Punkin’s involvement in Middleburg has centered around keeping it healthy for businesses and residents while preserving the history and heritage that make Middleburg so unique. Volunteering as the Middleburg Business and Professional Association president, serving on town landscape and Historic District Review committees, and whatever else comes up in the community, keeps her busy when she’s not at Journeymen Saddlers on Madison Street.

While most people have jumped around from one job to another throughout their careers, Punkin leaves the jumping to her customers. She has owned and operated her shop that specializes in custom riding chaps and belts with finished needlepoint, and repairs to saddles, boots, tack and strap goods for 41 years. Her staying power is matched closely by the majority of her colleagues, most of whom have been with Journeymen Saddlers since the beginning years.

In her shop, there are leather goods everywhere—bridles and halters lie in heaps on the floor, rolled hides stand at the ready in different departments, saddles rest on stands, chaps hang on hooks, boots set on the floor, dog collars are displayed on a board. The intoxicating smell of leather hangs in the air and its soft feel is always within reach.

Leather is organic, artistic, practical and magical in its possibilities. “You take half a hide and you create. You cut it, you strip it,” says Punkin. “And then it’s something,” At Journeymen, that something is beautiful, functional and of the highest quality. The store’s reputation draws people from afar and keeps customers coming back year after year. The professionals, the really good horsemen and women, make up the bulk of Punkin’s business, but the weekend horse riders appreciate the craftsmanship of her workshop, too.

A customer came in the shop and wanted to order custom chaps for her very tall boyfriend who was to stop by later to be measured last month. She handled a chain of leather samples of every color and finish imaginable, her fingers ran over the smoothness of the squares. “These are so cool,” she said as she flipped through the selection over and over again.

Leather repair and custom repair work require a pair of human hands. Little of the work can be accomplished by a machine alone, though the treadle sewing machine in the corner is an indispensable tool. Like many trades, there aren’t many young people interested in learning leather work. “We’d like to continue as long as we’re healthy,” says Punkin of herself and her employees. “What else are you going to do? I’m not a sitter.”

Not a sitter at all, Punkin runs regularly. “We run on Landmark (School Road) a lot, eight miles to the Y and back, 17 hills,” she added. “But, who’s counting, right?” She and her group of women friends have been running together for more than 20 years and have completed an Ultra Marathon, a marathon, several half marathons and countless shorter races. She said they always run as a group and have picked out a marathon to run next fall in Nags Head, North Carolina. “If we’re going to do one, go flat. If you train on the hills here, you ought to be able to crank that out on the flat.”

Committed, consistent and hard-working, Punkin is a stayer. A get up and go person who is happy to stay put in Middleburg, a life choice our community is all the better for.

 

This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Middleburg Life. 

“Lucky 7” Charity Gala Celebrating Seven Years of Serving Individuals with Special Needs

November 19, 2018 | Courtesy of Sprout Therapeutic Riding and Education Center

Therapeutic Riding and Education Center’s “Lucky 7” Charity Gala and Gaming benefit kicked off the celebration of their “lucky” seventh year of serving individuals with special needs with fun, food, drinks, and a little “gambling”.

The gala was held in the organizations’ barn, complete with twinkling string lights, professional gaming tables with dealers and a farm to table dinner, courtesy of Fields of Athenry Farm and RSVP Catering.A cocktail hour eased guests into the night, featuring beer from Solace Brewing Company and wines by Slater Run Vineyards, both of whom partnered with Sprout on this special anniversary event. A “Big Board”, a fresh take on a silent auction, entertained guests by featuring items to anonymously bid upon. This “interactive” auction added to the excitement and theme of the night as guests could take their pick from any auction item listed on The Big Board, ranging from designer silk scarves, spa treatments, personal chef dinners, weekend getaways and more.Executive Director, Brooke Waldron, delivered an inspiring speech about the importance of serving others through the power of horses. With not a dry eye in the house, Sprout students arrived in the arena, accompanied by their trust four-legged friends and Sprout instructors for the “Sponsor a Horse” portion of the evening. With warmth and love in their hearts, guests generously bid to sponsor a therapy horse for an entire room – resulting in ALL seventeen of the horses being sponsored!With the generous support of the event sponsors of Sue Fitzgerald and Associates, Newstead Farm, Alison Robitaille and Family, TriSept Corporation Northwest Credit Union and many others, the “Lucky 7” gala was a huge success.Event Chair, Kristin Quinn, and her committee worked to make the gala a night to remember, and their efforts did not go unnoticed, as Founder and Executive Director Brooke Waldron revealed following the charity gala that support from all those who attended raised over $300,000. Save the date for next year as it’s sure to be a “don’t want to miss event!”

 

 

X