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First Posted: June 2, 2012
May 27, 2013

The Hunt Country Stable Tour - In Its 53rd Year - 2012

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

The following is a direct quote from the 49th Annual Hunt Country Stable Tour, 2008, brochure:

About 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."

About Middleburg

"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 stop on the pike between Alexandria and Winchester. Fittingly, its name was changed to Middleburg.

The village is rich in history, from tales of Mosby's Rangers and skirmishes during the Civil War, to the glamorous years, when 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 my husband and I were able to make it to the stable tour. As usual, it was lovely. We did not visit all of the places on the tour as we have seen them many times before, however, there was a new estate, St. Bride's Farm, that was as elegant as the owners were graceful!

St. Bride's Farm

St. Bride's breeds, trains and campaigns champion show jumpers. The facilities include a main residence, guesthouse, staff quarters, business office, workshop, two barns, an indoor riding arena and outdoor grass ring. The original Georgian manor house was designed by Nathan C. Wyeth, architect of the West Wing and Oval Office, and completed in 1917. The lower barn was constructed in 1918 and renovated in 2010. It's built in the shed row style and houses the farm's mares, foals and retired horses. The upper barn is home for the active show jumpers and was just completed last year. It was built as a green facility and just won the 2011 NFBA Barn Building of The Year Award. This place was absolutely beautiful and a real treat to experience.

Lazy Lane Farm

Frank Shipp, President, Lazy Lane Farms, LLC was kind enough to provide me with the following information and gave permission to use on HorseHints.org. "Lacy Lane Farm was acquired by the present owners in 1981, and has since been home to Seeking the Pearl, currently the all-time leading money winning Virginia-bred, 199l champion 3 year-old, Hansel, who won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, and Grade 1 winner and former Virginia leading sire, Secret Hello, whose grave is near the old stallion barn.

The farm is comprised of just under 1800 acres, and includes the majority of the former Brookmeade Farm which was operated by Mrs. Isabelle Dodge Sloane from the late 1920's until her death in 1962. During those years the farm was home to 1934 Kentucky Derby winner, Cavalcade, whose grave is also near the old stallion barn and additional champions Sailor, Bowl of Flowers, and 1959 Horse of the Year, Sword Dancer.

The training barn and surrounding buildings were built in the late 1920's, and refurnished in the early 1980's. The broodmare barn was finished in 1990, and is currently home to 13 mares, who produced 9 foals this year. The breeding season, which begins in February, will end next month. The foaling season begins in January, and usually finishes by May (gestation approximately 11 months).

The horse population here is currently 23, and varies from a low of 23 in early spring (when most of the mares have migrated to Kentucky to be bred to stallions there) to a high in the mid 30's in the fall just before the yearlings leave for more advanced training at a training center.

Lazy Lane has 21 full time employees, including equine, agriculture and cattle (registered Angus herd of about 250 head), gardening/grounds, security, and office staff. Seasonal employees in spring and summer generally number an additional 4-5 for mowing and hay production. The farm is self sufficient in producing hay and straw, and also produces wheat and soybeans for market sales. The garden and poultry houses produce vegetables and eggs for use by the residents and employees here."

Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension (MARE)

Situated in the heart of Virginia's horse country, the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension (MARE) Center is one of Virginia Tech's 112 AREC's. Philanthropist Paul Mellon donated the 420-acre farm to Virginia Tech in 1929 to foster research aimed at improving pasture and animal productivity while enhancing the land. For 40 years, the center was primarily used for beef cattle research, but it was re-dedicated to serve the equine industry in 1992. The MARE Center's strong research tradition and unique educational programs make it a national leader in the field of equine science. Foal handling and treadmill demonstrations were outstanding at this stop.

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