Places to See
|First Posted: May 31,2010|
May 27, 2013
Hunt Country Stable Tour - 2010by Debora Johnson
Note for 2011 Middleburg Stable Tour:
"Saturday & Sunday/Memorial Day Weekend
Presented by Trinity Episcopal Church
Tickets available at Trinity Episcopal Church, all tour locations and online
Adults $20 in advance, $25 after May 21; children 12 and under free
For information call Trinity Episcopal Church - (540)592-3711
Proceeds benefit the Ministry of Trinity Episcopal Church"
My husand and I are planning to go to this year's stable tour if we are back in the country. If so, I will do another html page on for 2011, however, often times there are repeats on the stables to be visited.
Most of the text descriptions contained in this article came from the 51st Annual Hunt Country Stable Tour/2010. I have made some changes. My husband and I took many photographs while we were on the Stable Tour. They are ©HorseHints.org.
Every year Middleburg and Upperville have a Hunt Country Stable Tour. It is a self-driven auto tour that usually takes place Saturday and Sunday of the Memorial Day Weekend. This is a special opportunity to see some of the most elegant farms and stables in the country while supporting good works. It is a benefit for the Trinity Church. The benefits from this event go to support the mission and ministries with special emphasis on outreach. Trinity Church was built in the style of a medieval French provincial church. It is an adaptation of a church built in the 12-13 century.. The Church was built from native Virginia sandstone. The office and parish hall were given to Meade Parish by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon in 1960. Trinity Episcopal Church Upperville
"Upperville has been described as 'a mile long and an inch wide.' The 19th century linear village began life in 1790 as Carr Town, named for the mill owner Joseph Carr, but by the time the first post office opened in 1807, the name was Upperville. Today's quiet village shows few traces of the once bustling commerce along Route 50 that served its 300 residents. Although the population has barely changed, Upperville is now the center of America's famed 'Hunt Country' and surrounded by internationally recognized Thoroughbred farms. It lies within the Piedmont Hunt.
Just east of town are the famous show grounds of the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, the oldest horse show in the United States. Established in 1853 by Colonel Richard Henry Dulany, this five-day event draws the best equestrians in the country to its hunter and jumper competitions, and is capped by the exciting $100,000 Budweiser/Upperville Jumper Classic.
Upperville has been designated an Historic Landmark by the Virginia Landmark Commission."
Campaign: Gettysburg Campaign (June-August 1863)
Maj. General Alfred Pleasonton, Brig.General Wade Hampton and General Beverly Robertson, respectively
On June 21, Union cavalry made a determined effort to pierce Stuart's cavalry screen. Hampton's and Robertson's brigades made a stand at Goose Creek, west of Middleburg, and beat back Gregg's division. Buford's column detoured to attack the Confederate left flank near Upperville but encountered William E. "Grumble" Jones's and John R. Chambliss's brigades while J.I. Gregg's and Kilpatrick's brigades advanced on the Upperville from the east along the Little River Turnpike. After furious mounted fighting, Stuart withdrew to take a strong defensive position in Ashby Gap, even as Confederate infantry crossed the Potomac into Maryland. As cavalry skirmishing diminished, Stuart made the fateful decision to strike east and make a circuit of the Union army as it marched toward Gettysburg. The result of the battle was inconclusive.
"Middleburg, known by Colonial Virginians in 1731 as Chinn's Crossing, was originally owned by a cousin of George Washington. In 1787, the Virginia Assembly established the town, which had become a mid-way overnight coach stop and relay station on Ashby's Gap Turnpike between Alexandria and Winchester. That journey was about a 70 mile overland journey. Fittingly, its name was changed to Middleburg. There was strong Confederate loyalty and Middleburg saw allot of Civil War cavalry action.
The village is rich in history, from tales of Mosby's Rangers and skirmishes during the Civil War. By the second decade of the 20th century Middleburg's identity changed. It became a social and equestrian center. The Kennedy's were regulars, to its current international reputation as a breeding, showing, and racing center for Thoroughbreds. Country life and traditions are prized by local residents. The hunt and the hounds, carriage, drives, polo, charity balls, and walks along peaceful back roads make up the fabric of Middleburg life, along with delightful boutiques, art galleries, fine restaurants, and historic inns.
In 1905, the Middleburg-Upperville areas created a renaissance in American fox hunting with the International Hound Trials. The riders and their hounds, with all their pomp and pageantry, lead off the annual Christmas parade in Middleburg."
This year there were a number of new stables that were shown. I should say that we had not seen them for the past number of years. There were 14 stops on the schedule. Each is listed below with a brief description.
Trinity Episcopal Church Upperville
Trinity Church was built in the style of a medieval French provincial church. It is an adaptation of a church built in the 12-13 century.. The Church was built from native Virginia sandstone. The office and parish hall were given to Meade Parish by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon in 1960.
Welcoming you to this magnificent courtyard and brood mare barn are the glistening brass nameplates of famous Mellon Home bred champions such as Sea Hero, 1993 Kennedy Derby winner; Quadrangle, winner of the Belmont, Wood Memorial and Travers Stakes in 1964; and Horses of the Year Fort Marcy, Arts And Letters and Key To The Mint.
This year we did not visit Rokeby because we have been there many times before. However, I shall include some past information on Rokeby. In the middle of the courtyard stands the half-life-size bronze by John Skeaping, honoring home-bred Mill Reef, the first racehorse to win the Epsom Derby at Epsom, England, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Logschamp, France, and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, England, in the same season. The owner of Rokeby is Mrs. Paul Mellon, who defined the art of excellence in the Virginia hunt country. Beagling, brought to the United States from Great Britain, is the sport of tracking hare with a pack of hounds bred especially for this purpose.
Heronwood Farm was an outstanding Thoroughbred breeding operation for over 15 years. The farm encompasses nearly one square mile of pristine rolling countryside. Heronwood now boards horses, has a successful polo team and is home to a colorful herd of Haucaya Alpacas originating from Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Today, Heronwood boards horses, has a successful polo team and is home to a colorful herd of over 60 Alpacas originating from Peru, Bolivia and Chile. Heronwood's Yearling barn, was open to the public for this tour only. It was featured in the book, Ultimate Horse Barns, by Randy Leffingwell. This barn "redefined the Horse Barn." We were able to see Heronwood's champion herd sires, dams, yearlings and baby "crias." There was also an educational display of raw and processed fiber along with many finished products. There were knowledgeable persons available at each area to answer questions.
Built between 1801 and 1803 during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, this bridge is one of the last four-arch stone bridges in Virginia and was the scene of a cavalry and artillery duel on June 21, 1863. There, Confederate artillery successfully delayed a Union cavalry advance, which was probing to find General Robert E. Lee's build up across the Blue Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley, prior to Lee's advance towards Gettysburg. The fight lasted 90 minutes and was the second half of a 4-mile long running fight which began to the south in Rectortown. The Confederates threw all kinds of shots across the narrow bridge at the Federal troops trying to approach. Portions of Union Cavalry were assigned to ford the creed, but found the terrain rough with deep water and steep banks. Many men and horses died here. It is even thought that a cannon, which was unable to get away, rolled into the creek.
The bridge is an historic landmark in the state of Virginia. Abandoned by the highway department in 1957, the Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club took on the bridge's maintenance and preservation in perpetuity in 1976. In the late 1990s the club successfully campaigned for a federal ISTEA grant to help restore the structure. They formed a "Save the Bridge" charitable organization in order to raise the necessary funds to maintain and preserve the bridge for generations to come.
The tour had calvary demonstrations and historical interpreters who discussed the sights and sounds around Goose Creed Bridge during the War Between the States.
Boxwood Winery is a National Historic Landmark, which is one of the earliest established farms in the Middleburg area. Boxwood was originally settled in the eighteenth century and became a well known horse farm, the home of General Billy Mitchell, a pioneer of military aviation, and now the site of John Kent Cook's Boxwood Winery. This state-of-the-art winery was designed by acclaimed Washington D.C. architect, Hugh Newell Jacobsen. The 16 acre vineyard was designed by renowned viticulturist Lucie Morton, a Virginia resident. Boxwood Winery produces red wine in three styles in the Bordeaux tradition. Stéphane Derenoncourt, one of Bordeaux's great wine makers, became a consultant to Boxwood Winery in 2006.
Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center (M.A.R.E. Center)
Situated at the heart of Virginia's horse country, the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension (MARE) Center is one of Virginia Tech's 12 ARECs. Philanthropist Paul Mellon donated the 420-acre farm to Virginia Tech in 1949 to foster research aimed at improving pasture and animal productivity while enhancing the land. The center was used mainly for beef cattle research for 40 years, but was re-dedicated to equine research and teaching in 1992.
The MARE Center plays a critical role in the discovery, outreach and education missions of Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Much of today's current knowledge about equine nutrition, exercise physiology and the growth of young horses is the result of the cutting-edge research and innovation carried out at this world-class facility.
Now, in 2010, the center has launched a new initiative: an undergraduate student learning experience in equine sciences that will serve as the cornerstone for its teaching program. The novel, cutting-edge educational experience will immerse students in an environment filled with horses for an entire semester. It builds upon the strong scientific and practical foundation that Virginia Tech students receive as part of their curriculum on the Blacksburg campus, and prepares them for future careers in the horse industry, or in the veterinary and scientific fields.
Along with the normal demands required by a structured curriculum, students participate in all aspects of the daily operations of a large-scale equine breeding, show, and sales facility. Additionally, they have the opportunity to take part in in-depth summer internship programs, as well as a European study abroad course. To further support the new program, Virginia Tech has relocated its internally-recognized sport horse breeding program from Blacksburg to the MARE Center.
There were demonstrations in equine dentistry and foal handling, as well as hay rides to tour the farm.
Middleburg Training Track
Middleburg Training Center
Thoroughbred racing prospects condition and train before entering their "higher" education on national and international tracks. Yearlings are also broken and trained here. This model country training facility features an all-weather 7/8 mile track, 11 barns containing 20 stalls each, tack rooms, bunk rooms, kitchen and a veterinarian's office. Built in 1956 by Mr. Paul Mellon, a group of young trainers purchased the property in 1977 for their training programs and the use of nearby farms.
Separate Article on the Swimming and Hydrotherapy for Horses and Dogs
Sunny's Corner Farm at Takaro
Sunny's Corner Farm at Takaro
Sunny's Corner Farm is a multi-discipline, equestrian facility dedicated to inspiring courage and confidence through excellence in horsemanship, sportsmanship, leadership, sound training and competition.
Willow Bend Farm
Willow Bend Farm is a family-owned and operated 3-day event facility set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, not far from the historic town of Unison. Mara DePuy Dean, an Olympian and current international event rider, competes, trains, and teaches out of this barn. Three-day eventing is the triathlon of the horse world consisting of three phases: dressage, cross-country and show jumping. It takes considerable time and effort to bring horse and rider to international levels of competition, a life-long goal of Mara's, which precipitated the acquisition of this property in 1997. The surrounding fox hunting territory is ideal for conditioning the horses and schooling over natural cross-country obstacles. The arena adjacent to the barn is used for practicing precision riding as required by dressage, as well as gymnastic exercises over jumps which are beneficial to the show jumping phase.
My husband and I really enjoyed this barn. Everyone was warm and welcoming. Mara had a wonderful smile and just beamed as she met her guests. She was happy to answer questions. The horses were calm and friendly. It was apparent that there was allot of love and tender care at Willow Bend Farm!
For More Information:Dean Rides To Narrow Lead in Radnor Dressage
Rock Hill Farm
When Rock Hill Farm came on the market in 2008, it was badly in need of renovation, but unusually well preserved. Vas and Linda Devan, both avid horsepersons and foxhunters, decided to purchase the property and undertake the project. Rock Hill was already in conservation easement with the Virginia Landmarks Foundation and the Devans then added the farm to the Virginia Landmarks Register in June, and the National Register of Historic Places in August of 2009. Most of the original structures still stand, which include Quaker-style home and bank barn built in 1797, and a smoke house, well house/dairy, and corn crib. A slave cemetery, located near the swimming pool pavilion, bears witness to the original owner Abner Humphrey's status as a slaveholder. Rock Hlll may have had a brief role in the Civil War. Family history holds the farm to be the site where Mosby's Rangers divided up the money from the "Greenback Raid." In October 1864, Confederate Col. John Singleton Mosby and his men derailed a train near Duffields station in West Virginia. The men made off with the federal payroll of $173,000 which was headed south to pay Union Gen. Phillip Henry Sheridan's troops. Mosby refused his share, but later his men purchased for him a horse he had admired at Oatlands Plantation. Rock Hill's other barns and outbuildings reflect more recent years as a Thoroughbred horse breeding operation. Now the horses here are working foxhunters or homebred foxhunters in training, and Rock Hill's new owner shave made things as horse-and hunt-friendly as possible, with mown pathways and strategically placed jumps. Carrots were provided to feed the horses.
Windsor Farm is a beautiful 180 acre horse breeding, training, teaching and sales facility nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The farm is owned by Margaret and Francis O'Neill and their daughter, Alexa Lowe. Alexa is a successful national and international rider on the Grand Prix circuit. In 2008, she rode on the United States Equestrian Team, and last year she was second in the $100,000 Upperville Grand Prix on Windsor Farm's horse, "Credit Cruise," a ten year old Irish Sport Horse. This winter, she competed in the selection trials for the World Equestrian Games to be held this fall in Kentucky. At Windsor, warm blood mares are bred to proven European show jumping stallions as well as Windsor's own stallions. Windsor has over 40 horses including show jumpers, brood mares and young horses waiting for their turn in the jumper ring. Windsor has an original bank barn (circa 1789) which was raised using whole trees whose trunks still hold up the roof. The last time Windsor was on the tour was in 2004.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time visiting Windsor. The people were warm and welcoming. A show jumping exhibition was held at Windsor. The jumper course was designed by Mrs. Kathy Browne. The demonstration included top local professionals, amateurs, and junior riders. People were on site to help explain show jumping and answer horse-related questions.
Polo at Llangollen
Polo at Llangollen
Goose Creek Polo
Virginia International Polo Club
Located at historic Llangollen, the Virginia International Polo Club in Upperville, Virginia is the only all-inclusive polo facility in the Mid-Atlantic region. Founded in 2007, the Virginia International Polo Club offers the widest variety of professional services to all experience levels at the highest quality facility featuring three bermuda grass fields, a large arena, stick & ball field, track and two entertaining pavilions. Services include; polo school, leagues, tournaments, junior camps, women's league, clinics, leases, sales, boarding, breeding, training, and pro shop. Hosting polo school, tournaments and charity events May through November, "VIPolo" is the ultimate destination for players and spectators alike.
My husband, Bill and I really enjoy the yearly Hunt Country Stable Tour and try to attend if we are in the country. If you have the good fortune to be able to see this magnificent area of Middleburg, Upperville and the surrounding areas take that opportunity. It is truly an enjoyable one or two day experience.
Hunt Country Stable Tour 2008 and galleries