Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Santa Goes Equestrian

Who says Santa doesn't ride?  Equestrian Santa is alive and well proves this lovely antique nutcracker that was found recently on Ebay.  

This one will look great on your tree to go along with all of those horse ornaments that you already have.

And if price isn't an issue, try this one from Neiman-Marcus:

You can always stitch a great looking pillow:

Happy holidays a bit early!  Enjoy this cold but seasonal Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas in Middleburg

It's that time of year again!  Yes, Christmas in Middleburg falls on the first Saturday in December.  If you happen to be in the area, it is a MUST see.  Middleburg is nirvana for horse lovers, located about 30 miles west of Washington, DC on Route 50 not too far from Dulles Airport in the middle of the Virginia hunt country.  And you can shop until you drop!  See my earlier posts on Jackie Kennedy's farm in the area.  It is tradition, the local hunts ride in a parade down Route 50.  Last year it snowed!  Mark your calendars.  It means Christmas is coming!

Vintage Equestrian

I had a lot of fun with this...Ebay is a great source for unique gifts and vintage finds.  Look at some of the "vintage equestrian" finds that I came up with this morning.  And the best part is that is always changes.  You can find something new every day!

This one is really awesome for those young enough to remember when people actually wore ultrasuede.  Back in the late 70's this would have been in hot demand down on the Florida circuit or to wear at a Middleburg hunt party.  Can't believe that people actually wore this stuff.

This would make a really cool gift.  It is currently on Ebay, not expensive (under $20 currently).  Works.

This scarf is also great looking.  It shows its age a bit but that is part of its allure.  Very art deco and I love it!

How about this dress in size 8? I can remember when ladies wore dresses like this.  It really has not gone out of style.

Ralph Lauren.  I love this too.  And this works well today just like it did back in the 80's.  Size large.

Another Ralph Lauren piece.  No one does equestrian quite like he does. 

Ralph one more time. 

This scarf I really adore.  Not huge, about 25 inches and rayon, not silk, but this is timeless.

Another great old scarf.

And lastly, I could not resist throwing these in, from the 80's maybe, size 34 for the man in your life. I can picture Chevy Chase wearing these on Christmas in "Christmas Vacation" or even better, Cousin Eddie wearing them as he struts out of his RV parked in the Griswald's front lawn.  Gotta love it.  Go vintage.  It's one way to go green at Christmas!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Tractor Thanksgiving

We had family in for the Thanksgiving holiday so it was a busy few days.  But we did manage to photograph the newest addition to our farm family, our long awaited new tractor. 

This baby will certainly make mowing life easier next year.  Hubby loves taking it out for a spin.  There is something relaxing about riding around on one of these.  Not sure I can explain it but you'll likely find me spending a lot of time on this baby in a few more months.

Unseasonably warm again today, but I will take it.  If this keeps up, we will be mowing again!

And whatever you do, for you tractor owners out there, dont try this at home!

 Happy end of November, well almost!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Dirty Lowdown on Mud Rooms

Every farm or country house needs a mud room.  I can't tell you how much I depend on mine, which we added when we renovated the farm.  Mine has brick floor and a built in bench with a cushion, racks for boots and shoes and a "tree" to hold my many coats.  It's not big, but it serves its purpose. 

You don't have to live in the country though to need or use a mud room.  There are so many stylish ones out there. Let's look a few..... and it's raining today, so it makes you appreciate one if you happen to have one where you live.

This is from the web site.  Note the lovely needlepoint pillow in the middle.  Still waiting to find the right pillows to stitch for my bench in the mudroom.  This is in a kitchen but I can see this going so well in a nice country mud room.  Love the style of the bench and the color. 

This is from The Enchanted Home (one of my favorite blogs):

This one is somewhat suburban IMHO, but functional the floor...

And this one I love.  Very British, shabby chic in a good way.  Love the brick wall and the old door. This will be in style 100 years from now!

And look at all those wellies......................

Stay warm and dry.  And don't make that mud room too organized.  Clutter makes it look used and fucntional.  And stylish..

What Ponies Want for Christmas

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thelwell Ponies

Norman Thelwell is the "unofficial artist of the British countryside."  As a young girl, I adored his books and cartoons.  They are timeless.  Mr. Thelwell died in 2004 at the age of 80 but his cartoons of little girls and their ponies will never go out of style.

Looking for the perfect present for the pony lover in your household?  A Thelwell book will make a great gift.  Many of these books are available on Amazon.  Some are very pricey as they are now rare and out of print but not all of them.  And Ebay and your local "consignment tack store" sometimes offer these at much less.

Thelwell published 32 books that included subjects such as cats, dogs, ponies, fishing, sailing, motoring, house hunting, gardening, golf, country sports and stately homes.

His pony books, with fat ponies and little girls gave the name "Thelwell pony" to many very rotound ponies although it's been a long time since I have heard the term used.  Maybe we should bring it back.

His first pony cartoon was published in 1953.  His first book Angels on Horseback  was published in 1957.  A Leg at Each Corner was published in 1961 and was serialised in the Sunday Express and led to the development of the strip cartoon characters Penelope and Kipper.

His 32 books have sold more than 2 million copies in the UK and have been translated into many different languages. 

It's funny that he was not a rider but was able to capture the essence of the relationship between little girl and pony so eloquently.

Enjoy your Monday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hermes Has Gone Over the Top

In our current economic times it's mind boggling to learn of Hermes' "plush toy" that can be yours for a mere $490.

Don't get me wrong, I love Hermes, their scarves, Birkins, but this is just too much.  Maybe the OWS gang has a point after all.  It's cute, but not that cute.  Tres gauche!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

General George Patton and Operation Cowboy

General George S. Patton had horses in and out of his life, literally. 

After graduation from West Point in 1909, his second assignment was with the 15th Calvary at Fort Meyer in Virginia. He raced horses there, competed in steeplechases and played polo. 

He participated in the first-ever modern pentathlon at the 1912 summer Olympics in Stockholm, finishing fifth overall.  In the equestrian cross-country phase he was one of several riders turning in a perfect performance.  He also made the team for the 1916 summer Olympics scheduled for Berlin, but the Games were canceled due to the War.

Before the outbreak of World War II, he rejoined the calvary and owned a dozen horses.  He played on the Army polo team and was an avid foxhunter. 

Patton's love for equines ended up serving all of us well.  On May 7, 1945, the day before Germany surrendered and the war in Europe ended, General Patton and Robert Patterson, the Undersecretary of War drove to Schloss Arco in Austria to the Spanish Riding School. 

In March 1945, the Lipizzaners had been secretly evacuated from Vienna by the Riding School's Director, Col. Alois Podhajsky.  He was afraid that the stallions would be killed by air raids or captured by the Russians.  Podhajsky had enlisted the help of Walton Walker who had invited General Patton to see the famous horses.

At the end of the performance, Podhajsky rode a Lipizzaner stallion named Neapolitano over to Patton and saluted him.  Patton rose from his seat.  The horses became the wards of the U.S. Army from that point forward until they could be returned to their home in Vienna.  The stallions were safe.  What about the mares? 

What Podhajsky did not know was that Patton had already become involved with the famous Lipizzaner stallions.  Two years earlier in 1943, the Lipizzaners' breeding mares which were bred to supply the Spanish Riding School's stallions, were taken by the German High Command from their pastures in Austria.  Without these mares, the Riding School faced extinction (it had been in place for over 200 years).

Nine days earlier Patton had given his approval to one of his commanders to execute an operation to rescue from the German Army more than 1000 horses that included these famous mares.  Colonel Reed was able to find out that the horses had been moved to Hostau, Czechoslavakia.  Several hundreed Allied POWs were also there.  It was agreed that these horses should not fall into the hands of the approaching Russians who would have killed and eaten them. 

To make a long story much shorter, General Reed, a horse lover and Calvary officer acted very quickly and made arrangements with Patton to approve a military operation to rescue the horses and the prisoners. 

At dawn on May 12th, about 350 horses were herded in small groups with American vehicles positioned before and after them with a band of Polish, Czech, and Cossack horsemen as outriders along with some Americans.  They called it Operation Cowboy.  The operation was masterful.  The Americans had closed off all major intersections and they covered about 130 miles to Mannsbach safely.  The fastest group made the trek in two days. The slower groups, mostly mares and foals, took an extra day.  A total of 244 Lipizzaners had been returned to Austria and only two did not make it.  This story is much more complex and reads more like a spy novel than the truth, but we'll keep it short for now. 

Charles Reed was a superb horseman and was an instructor at the Calvary School and a member of the 1930-31 U.S. Army horse show team.  After retiring from the Army he purchased one of the offspring of one of the horses he helped rescue and rode her every day for nearly 30 years.

When Patton was badly injured in a car accident later in 1945, which would take his life, he posed one question to his doctor:  "What chance have I to ride a horse again?"

Patton's favorite horse was "Big Red". Big Red was the "riderless horse" in General Patton's funeral procession later that same year.  Patton is buried near Luxembourg.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Winter Essentials

Now that winter is upon us, it's time to get out the winter "essentials" - the things that we can't live without on the farm in winter.  It's quite a change when you have to get up in the freezing temperatures to do those chores and it only gets worse.

For those of you who live in a warm climate or who go "south" for the winter, you can just disregard this post as it simply won't apply to you.  But for those of us who brave the winter weather, well, we just adapt.

This is one item that keeps me warm in any kind of weather.  You won't find this in Vogue, but this is WARM.  Carthartt's are just the best.  Mine is in hunter green and I have had it for years.  In fact, I get hot in this thing.  And I have to say that I ran into a friend at a horse show last winter.  She was wearing one of these in tan, complete with her Hermes scraft in her neck and she made it look chic.  Buy these at Tractor Supply, on-line, Southern States. 

My hands get really cold in the winter, even in just mild temperatures. These gloves are the only ones that work for me and I can ride and even show in these.  I go through a pair of these each winter.  Keep hand warmers around too for the REALLY cold days.  I buy these SSG gloves on Amazon.

Feet get cold too.  The very best socks are SmartWool.  Forget silk liners, these work just fine.  Again, I go through at least one pair of these each winter.

I also like these for winter riding although  I have not bought a pair yet. These are Ariat boots.

These are ideal for everyday use.  Warm, zip up, functional, also from Ariat.

I have a very old pair of Patagonia fleece pants that I wear all of the time around the house and outside when it is very cold.  They don't make them anymore (wish they would make them again so I could get a new pair).  I also have an old polarfleece vest that is very tight fitting that I can layer. I can even wear it under my riding coat when I show in the dead of winter.  I have not seen one in a store for many years but if you see one, snap it up.

What do you do to stay warm outside when the temperatures plunge?  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Poor Truman

I am a worried mother this morning.  My dear young Truman is very sick and we not are certain what the problem is.  He is the dearest, sweetest cats, one of the real loves of my life.  He deserves a good, happy, healthy life.

 He was a year old in July.  Suddenly he stopped eating, drinking, became very lethargic.  He does not want to go outside.  Now he is throwing up (but not eating) and his white blood cell count is very low.  His lungs are not clear either.  It is starting to look very bad.

We went to the vet late Thursday and he is on antibiotics.  We are going back this morning.  Help!

Please say a prayer for the poor boy.  I think he is going to need it!

Friday, November 11, 2011

More Blowing Rock - Moses Cone Park

When we visited Blowing Rock a few weeks ago, in mid-October, one of the spots we visited was Moses Cone Memorial Park.

The 3000-acre park sits just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I have been going there as long as I can remember, since my first visit to the area in the late 60's or early 70's when I was a little girl.  It has not changed much since then.

The large white house sits atop a hill overlooking the most fantastic view.  Today the house is run by the Park Service and there is a very nice crafts shop inside.  You can purchase very nice handmade items from a variety of Guild members.

The house is quite nice, even today.

There are miles and miles of trails that eventually make there way down to the bottom, to a lake.  You can hike or ride horses.  No bikes - mountain or otherwise. 

The day we were there was lovely, very clear, but cold.  There was snow on Grandfather Mountain. You can barely see the lake at the bottom.

The Cone family was from Greensboro I believe, and was in the textile business.  Mr. Cone used the paths for carriage driving.  When I was a little girl, we would ride the horses over from Camp Yonahlossee and ride them all day, once a session.  I just remember how sore I was!  It was a lot of fun.  This is a great place to trail ride. 

Here is a photo of the barn.  It's not too big. 

It is such a lovely spot and am so thankful that the land was donated so that it did not become yet another development. 

Some views are priceless!

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