Thursday, March 31, 2011

Coach House Extraordinaire

Some of you may have seen the interiors of this Coach House on  I am not sure where it is located, but surely it must be on a magnificent equestrian estate in Upperville, Va, Long Island or Aiken, S.C. 

Take a look:

There is "Baker" stuff everywhere - tote bags, dog beds, director's chair.  You can buy some of that stuff here.  Love the dog and the faded ribbons by the bar.

The Hermes boxes and bag add just a dash of color to the room.  The white Rebecca Ray bag will be profiled soon. Her stuff is lovely!

I like the ribbons (old and faded of course) on the bookshelf along with the "Whitney" blanket.  You can buy those at Beval's, an old tack store based in NJ.  Never thought about bringing one of those in from the barn to use in the house.  Good idea.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baby April, Part One

Some people have children, I have fillies.  April was my first baby and she took 11 months to arrive.  Yes, 11 months, not your typical nine.  You should have seen the horror on the lady's face in front of me in the checkout line at Safeway one evening as I explained to my friend Jessica that my baby was due in 11 months.  Actually, April popped out about three weeks late and she arrived around midnight in mid-April. (She celebrates a birthday in about two weeks).  Your first child is special and April is no different.

Here is a photo of her at 5 days.

I own April's mother, Sega, who has been my horse for 14 years and is now a very young 17 (more on her in another post).  Everyone who knows Sega thought she would have a lovely baby but for many reasons it was not a good idea for Sega to carry a baby so we hired a surrogate and performed an embryo transfer.  Technology is a wonderful thing and it is amazing what you can do today with the right vet and technology. Doing an ET today is quite simple and everything went as planned, on schedule, no complications.  Viola, the dark bay horse in the photo, is April's surrogate mom who carried her and cared for her until she was weaned.

From the very beginning April was a good looking filly.  Huge chest, long legs, athletic from the start and that has not changed.  We are lucky.

April lived in Pennsylvania, just north of Baltimore until she was six months old.  Here she is at about 5 months.  At this point she was not yet weaned from Viola and she was turned out with other moms with their fillies, just like in the movies.  This was a warm sunny August day and all of the young horses were running and playing but never getting too far from their mothers.  I remember it well.

Like children, horses grow very quickly.  My how time does fly:

This photo was taken of April the day she left the farm in PA to move to Maryland, her next temporary home.  Her huge size was becoming even more apparent.  At this stage she was bigger than all of the colts.

When you register a filly with a breed society, you have to take shots of her from all angles and also send in a piece of her mane for her DNA test (to make sure daddy is who we say he is).  This photo was sent in to the American Hanoverian Society, where April is registered.

She gets really big, really fast.  Stay tuned.

Essex Shirts

There is only one shirt that I "show" in - Essex Classics.  But I am liking these shirts for casual wear these days with the new "wrap collar" that is lined in lovely silk around the neck and cuffs.  And the fact that they are Coolmax makes them even more appealing.  Some hunter riders still prefer the more traditional two button collar with matching choker.  I have worn this style casual before, under a blazer with an Hermes scarf wrapped around my waist as a belt.

Take a look at some of these shirts:

The Essex Performance "Florence" Wrap Collar Show Shirt is 100% CoolMax and features an Italian silk trim inside the collar and cuffs adding a fashionable flair.

I simply love this blue shirt with the Hermes type pattern in the collar and cuffs.  Smart Pak carries this one and you can buy it online in several colors.

Here is another pattern in white.  I tend to prefer white shirts over colors.

A dirty little secret:  Essex has an online outlet store and the prices are unbelieveable.  This lovely traditional "ratcatcher" below is a mere 76% off at the outlet.  Comes in my size too.  Ummmmm............

Here is one more from the Outlet.  Does anyone know the provenance of the term "ratcatcher"?  That is what these shirts are often called.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Peter-Blair Ties

If you have not discovered Peter-Blair ties, please take a peek. The owner, Dick Fowlkes, from Richmond, has a wonderful eye for color and is also an accomplished artist.  Peter-Blair is an iconic Richmond men's clothing store, known for their bright preppy colors.   Peter-Blair Ties is actually a separate company with an online store, but the ties are also sold at the store in Richmond.  They also create custom ties for companies, schools, race tracks (Keeneland), and non-profits.

I visited the store this past week and fell in love with some of his new ties. Take a peek:

This one fits in well down on the farm:

Looks a bit like this don't you think?

What about this one?  I love cows, even on a tie..............

And we can't forget the equestrian theme:

If ever in Richmond stop by the store (at Libbie and Grove) near St. Catherine's and there are lots of other fun shops near-by including J. McLaughlin, a needlepoint store, several home furnishings stores and great places to grab a quick bite. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Horse Movies - Ode to Elizabeth Taylor

Sad day yesterday with the news of the death of movie icon Elizabeth Taylor.  We'll honor her today by looking at some of the best horse movies, since she lead the way at age 12 in the starring role of Velvet Brown in National Velvet, probably one of the best horse movies ever made. 

I never much cared for the "remake" of International Velvet with Tatum O'Neal.  But if National Velvet were made today, I would chose Dakota Fanning as the star, who displays her awesome talent in the 2005 Dreamer, another very good horse movie. 

My all time favorite horse movie has to be The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, a 1968 Disney classic starring Dean Jones and Kurt Russell.

The movie has some great clips. One of my favorites is when a very young Kurt Russell drives up, pulling the horse trailer in what appears to be a very small convertible sports car (like an MG).  Once they park trailer, a full bar pops out of the side of the trailer, with an awning and while the girls ride, the men have cocktails.  Can I have one of those for my trailer please?

Ellen Janov, the young star of the movie, who plays Dean Jones' daughter, died in a tragic house fire in Los Angeles in 1976 at age 23.  Olympian Kathy Kusner does a lot of the riding in the movie.  If you have not seen it, by all means take a look.

Another lesser known film, Kentucky, is a 1938 Technicolor with Loretta Young, Walter Brennan and Richard Greene.  It is a Romeo and Juliet story of lovers Jack and Sally, set amidst Kentucky horse racing.  Brennan won his second Oscar (Best Supporting Actor) in his role as Peter Goodwin, who was in his 40's when the movie was made but plays a much older gentleman.  I have been told that the horses in the movie are famous racehorses - at the beginning you see Man O'War, Fair Play, Hard Tack and others.  Don't quote me on this, but I was told that the horse "Postman" was played by Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox.

Sherger is a true story about an Irish Thoroughbred who was kidnapped by the IRA and never seen again.

Some others worth mentioning include Secretariat, Seabiscuit, Flash, Justin Morgan Had a Horse, The Horse Whisperer, Hidalgo, Danny, The Little Horse That Could:  The Connemara Stallion Erin Go Braugh, The Silver Stallion, Miracle of the White Stallions, The Princess Stallion, and of course, Black Beauty.

You can find a more complete list of horse movies here.  And your favorite?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


It's 70 degrees in Virginia today, spring fever, makes me want to shop for a new spring clothes.  The sad truth is that here on the farm, we rarely get dressed up to go anywhere other than dinner. The good news is that this lifestyle makes it easy on the pocketbook. You just don't need a ton of clothes and the clothes you need don't go out of style. 

Here's what a typical outfit might look like right now:

Loving this Barbour Flyweight Jacket that is perfect right now for spring and fall.  The bright orange lining adds a bit of zest to this otherwise stodgy jacket.  This one is somewhat fitted, shorter in length. Looks great with jeans.

You can never have too many polos, and no one does them better than Ralph.  Try this one on for size in a new spring color:

Love these timeless leather belts from Edgewood, the bridle manufacturer.  These last forever and you can wear them with anything. Just oil them to get them dark in color before you wear, nothing urks more than an untanned leather belt or bridle.

These boots are simply the greatest.  While you won't be wearing them in the heat of summer, they still work well for the wet spring months.  Comfortable, functional, warm, dry, and you can wear them most of the year.  I like these Dubarry boots better than the tall ones that you often see, as you can just slip them on.  Keep them in the mudroom for quick trips to the barn, the grocery, to find the dog.

Last but certainly not least, a bit of "jewerly" always makes the outfit.  Less is indeed more, and nothing is more timeless than this.  Hermes is always a good bet.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Les Thomas Paintings

As an animal lover, I was thrilled to discover Canadian artist Les Thomas about 10 years ago while vacationing in Lake Louise.  His paintings are extraordinary and you must see them in person to really appreciate his work.  You need a large room for the 48x48 oil, wax panels that depict animals in action but a 24 x 24 panel will work in a variety of rooms.  The light will change the look of the painting depending on the time of day.

He paints wonderful rabbits, deer, bears (grizzly, black and polar), fox, cows, wolverines, coyote, caribou, lynx, moose and antelope.  You can buy his work at the Canada House Gallery in Banff.  Today the exchange rate is about one to one, so the Canadian dollar prices are pretty close to what you will pay in American dollars. 

Here are a few examples of his work:

oil, wax, panel, 48" x 48"

Cinnamon Bear
oil, wax, panel
48" x 48"

oil, wax, panel
72" x 72"

36" x 36"
oil, wax, canvas

Canada House will ship anywhere and they offer wonderful service.  If you find yourself near Calgary, stop by and see the Les Thomas paintings or some of their other artists.  Great art makes a house a home!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Boxwood Farm - Bath County, VA

Virginia is home to thousands of fabulous old properties, many with a deep and interesting history. Boxwood Farm in Bath County, near the Homestead, nestled in the mountains, is one shining example.  People came to Bath County for the famous springs, at Warm Springs and at Hot Springs, and the Homestead was built in the region as so many people were attracted to the area, for "the cure."  All of that for another day. 

The McDannald family built the original Boxwood homestead and had a son who later operated The Warm Springs Hotel, Warm Springs Pools and formed the company that built the toll road over Warm Springs Mountain and down the valley to Hot Springs.  The only remaining Toll House still stands where the old road enters Boxwood's meadows.  Dry stack stone walls line the old carriage path in front of Boxwood.

In 1830, the two story log home was covered with clapboard and a wing was added to either side.  Boxwoods were planted that gave rise to the farm's name.  In 1890 the Ingalls family purchased the house (the Ingalls purchased both the Warm Springs and Hot Springs locations and the hotel in Hot Springs and they brought the railroad to Hot Springs and built The Homestead as we know it today).

Huntington Hartford purchased the house from the Ingalls' family for his bride, Mary Pickford, the movie star and she later married Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Boxwood became one of their homes.

The farm today sits on 43 fenced acres and has an additional 20 acres of woods behind it leading to the George Washington National Forest.  A spring exists behind the house.  If the walls of Boxwood could only talk!  The stories she might tell.

The house is for sale for $2.4M and also boasts a guest cottage, a stable with a five room apartment upstairs.  Would make a lovely "hunt box" don't you think?  What a lovely example of an old country farm that has been lovingly restored and cared for through the years. Anyone interested?
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