Monday, October 31, 2011

Hunt Night at Harrisburg

Fox hunting is a great sport but it takes a certain type of rider and horse.  You need to be bold, aggressive, fearless, not afraid to fall off and most of the people I know who hunt are "brave" and live life to its fullest.  That's not to say that there are fun horse show people, let's just say they are two different breeds.  Some people and a few rare horses are able to stradle both worlds. 

Some of the big horse shows have "hunt night" which is a great way to showcase the sport of fox hunting but also allowing for hunt riders to compete at some of the big shows.  Some of my friends from the Sewickley Hunt near Pittsburg competed at Harrisburg (Pennsylvania National) and did very well.  Catch some of the rides on the link below.

It is a great way to showcase hunting to those who may not be as familiar with it and it looks like those who competed along with their cheering sections had a grand time. This is Lucy, her mother is a very good friend and she is also an accomplished show rider, on her mother's horse. 

(Al Cook photo)

This is Diane (Mary Palmer's mom, who is in the video) and Joan (Lucy's mom). Both Diane and Joan are seasoned hunt members and ride to the hounds very often.  They came to cheer on the Sewickley team.

The three Sewickley riders pose: Ann, Mary Palmer (they are also sisters) and Lucy.

The three riders pose with trainer extraordinaire, Cindy, in front of their ribbons.  Wish I could have been there!  What fun!


Friday, October 28, 2011

US Equestrian Team Wins Big at Pan American Games

Kudos to the US Equestrian Teams "Gold haul" at the Pan American Games this week in Mexico at the Guadalajara Country Club.  The US topped 12 competing teams.  Brazil won the show jumping silver with Mexico claiming the bronze and Canada coming in fourth. This win assures the US Team a spot in the 2012 Olympic Games (The Team was not qualified to compete without a good showing here).  Mexico and Chile also earned a chance to travel to London next year.

The US Show Jumping Team includes (L-R) Kent Farrington, Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, Christine McCrea and Mario Deslauriers (who rides as an alternate, in case a team member's horse has to pull out at the last minute). 

Amazingly, all four competing team members jumped double clear to clinch the Gold with only 2.90 penalties.  It was the first time since 1975 that all three US teams have won Gold at a Pan American Games (winning also in Dressage and Three-Day Eventing).

(AP Photo)

The US Dressage Team also had a good week:

Take a peek at these gorgeous athletic horses:

McLain Ward wasn't able to bring Sapphire this time out but his mount, Antares F, quickly proved that he is worthy of international gold, like his stablemate. 

Kent Farrington, less experienced on the international scene than his teammate Ward, let no one down and rode impeccably on Uceko, an 11-year-old Dutch gelding. I am sure we'll be seeing much more of this pair in the years to come, very likely in London next summer.

Beezie Madden added another clear round at the top of the international show jumping world with the mare Coral Reef Via Volo.  The 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood once again topped some of the best in the world.  Madden was also a member of the 2003 Pan American Games Gold medal-winning team.

Christine McCrea won her first international Gold medal on her 11-year-old KWPN gelding, Romantovich Take One. 

Kudos to all three teams for bringing home the Gold this week!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Washington International Horse Show Poster

I must say that I LOVE this year's horse show poster from the WISH and it is so out of the box (for a horse show anyway). 

This year's Official Washington International Horse Show art poster is by famed graphic and equestrian artist, Mickael Paraskevas of Southampton NY.  You can buy these signed and unframed for $100 on the WISH web site.  Last count, there were less than 50 left. So you'd better hurry!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall Barn Party

With Halloween coming, pumpkins everywhere, and all those mums I keep seeing, wouldn't it be grand to host a barn party?  Maybe next year when my life slows down and my farm is in order.  It would be fun.  My horsey friends would love it!

Here are a few ideas.  Seems that the "barn party wedding theme" is alive and well.  If I were much younger and of the marrying age, it would be appropriate, but I think I'd prefer something more formal.  Anyway, take a look and maybe this will inspire a few others to put the party planning mode in full gear.

(From Bubby & Bean)

(From New England Fine

(From Country Living)

Enjoy the lovely fall day!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Washington International Horse Show

It's that time of the year, and the horses are arriving on F Street. It's an odd sight, but it's a unique experience to say the least.  Needless to say, you must have a special horse to deal with the real city.

It's close quarters but so much fun to be a part of.  There's nothing more exciting than getting up at 3:30 am to hack your horse inside the Verizon Center with 150 other people.  But this is a dying art, one that likely won't exist in another 25 years or so.  The National left Madison Square Garden years ago and let's admit that Pennsylvania National in Harrisburg just doesn't have the same allure as being in Washington or New York.

The horses are shipped in from nearby Prince Georges' County Equestrian Center for a short stay in the city.

Most of the horses are stabled outdoors with tight security and lots of shavings to protect those expensive legs laying on the roads and sidewalks of our nation's capital.  A few lucky (read well-connected) ones stay in the basement of the Verizon Center.

The Horse Show has an illustrious past with many famous faces in attendance.  The show started out at the old D.C. National Guard Amory on East Capitol Street across from the old RFK Stadium.  In the ringside boxes you'd find well-dressed spectators often in White Tie.  At that time (the late 50's), the "indoor" circuit included Washington, Harrisburg, New York (gone, but moved to KY this year) and Toronto (the Royal Winter Fair). 

Early on the show had a "Diplomat's Class" as many ambassadors had begun their careers in the calvary.   

Here's a photo from the Kennedy Library with Jackie in attendance.  Also in attendance are Eve Fout (who rode Jackie's horses at the show), Alice Roosevelt Longworth (daughter of Teddy Roosevelt), William Walton, Eunice Shriver,  and Gore Vidal.

A more contempoary photo of McLain Ward on the famous Sapphire at the Verizon Center.  The show moved from the Amory to the Cap Center (now demolished) and has signed a multi-year deal with the Verizon Center so it's not likely to move from its current venue at least for a few more years.

It's a thrill to ride there, to spectate and just to watch it all happen.  The warm-up ring is TINY.  You need a special horse to make it here.  But it's an experience that I am proud to have been a part of, at least four times, maybe five, on two different horses.  If you are in the area, by all means make the journey to watch it in action.  You won't be disappointed.

Camp Yonahlossee

When I was a young girl in the early 70's my parents sent me to Camp Yonahlossee near Blowing Rock.  These were wonderful years that I spent with my great friend Ginny Jones. The camp lasted for 6 weeks and I remember my mom coming to visit me and asking me if I was ready to come home or if I was homesick and the answer was always "no."

I loved it there and I wish that so many memories were not so faded.  Anyway, the area where the camp stood is now a housing development.  The land was sold to a developer in the mid 80's and you know what happens from there.

We dined last week at the Gamekeeper Restaurant which is housed in an older home that was the summer residence of the camp's founders, Dr. and Mrs. A.P. Kephart.  It was somewhat nostalgic, though I had never set foot in the house until then.  The restaurant was superb!

The history of the camp is quite interesting as the camp was the first girls' camp in NC, established in 1922.  The first year, the owners had 25 girls.  "Running water" and "bathtubs" were such a luxury in that part of the world back then that the mountain people came to ask for a drink just see water running from a faucet.  "Tweetsie" (a local tourist attraction that has been around as far as I can remember back to the late 60's) was a real working train running from Boone to Johnson City, TN. There were no tvs or even radios.

Camp Yonahlossee (Cherokee for "Trail of the Bear") offered swimming, tennis, riding, archery, weaving, pottery, hiking and all kinds of summer outdoor activities.  Early on the camp had its own farm providing milk, eggs, butter and meat.  You can still see the original barn, riding ring and weaving cabin today, but sadly that is all that is left.  The cabins were rustic, covered in bark.  You walked along the hills (we must have been so fit). 

Lila Bozick was the riding instructor when I was there and I rode every morning from 8 am until noon.  It was nirvana for me.  We showed at the Blowing Rock Horse Show and at a show in Linville.

We had a "weigh in" every Sunday evening to make sure we were all eating enough.  Trust me we were!  The food was so good.

The camp really sits in the middle of nowhere if you think about it, especially back in the 20's when Blowing Rock was not developed.

I remember the smell of the summer Mountain Laurel.  Whenever I smell them, I think of Yonahlossee.  That will never fade from memory. 

We had a lake which is now gone, but the water was COLD.  There was a pool right beside the lake but it was cold too.  We had thick skin at that young age.  There was an outpost somewhere a few hours away where we would go to water ski every session.

We had events such as musicals that the campers put on.  Some of them were very good.

Here are some early photos, probably from the 20's and 30's:

Here are the owners:

The girl in this photo ended up being my camp counselor one year!  Kris.

More old photos. 

What a walk back in time!  Yonahlossee was a special place.  I am lucky to have been a part of it. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More Blowing Rock

Our trip to Blowing Rock was so much fun, I am just counting the days until we can go back again!  We stayed at The Ragged Garden the second night which is in the village of Blowing Rock.  The village is only three miles, but it is nice to be within walking distance of the shops and restaurants.

The Inn is rustic, circa 1930's I believe, covered in bark, as a lot of the older houses are in the area.  It is not fancy, somewhat rustic, but very nice.  We would stay here again.  The location is perfect, just a few blocks from Main Street.

In the summer months I imagine parking is difficult so being so close to everything is a big plus.  Every room is different.  We stayed in the very top floor in "Evergreen Garrett" which was nice and quiet.  Some of the lower floors are probably noisy.

The restaurant, The Best Cellar, is in the building and it is very good.  I liked The Game Keeper better, where we dined the night before, but would recommend this one too.  Reservations are a must.

We ventured out to the new Blowing Rock Museum on Main St.  It opened on Oct. 1st. As someone who spent my youth here, I can appreciate the history of this lovely small town.  More to come!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Valle Crucis, NC

We returned home last night from a very quick trip to the Blowing Rock, NC area, a fabulous spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Hate to admit that I had not been there since the early 90's but certainly will make much more frequent visits going forward.  Some things do get better with age, although it was a lot more crowded than I remember it.  We started our journey in Valle Crucis (it means "Vale of the Cross" which is west of Blowing Rock). It's claim to fame today is the home of the Mast General Store.  Many tour buses make the journey today. 

Charles Kuralt proclaimed the Original Mast Store was “a destination” in his most recent book Charles Kuralt’s America. Since 1883, the Original Mast Store has been the gathering place for the community. Stop in early in the morning for a cup of 5¢ coffee, to pick up your mail, and to get the morning news.
“All general store are satisfying to visit, but one of them, The Mast Store, is a destination.” – Charles Kuralt
The Mast General Store opened in 1883 and quickly grew in reputation for carrying everything from “cradles to caskets.” Even today, you’ll still find shelves packed with all you might need for life in the 19th century and most of this one. Entering this landmark, you’ll notice advertising posters untouched since Mr. Mast hung them decades ago, stand at a counter where locals once bartered their goods or mail a letter at the community’s corner post office. Your might even discover a few old-timey bargains along the way.
The Original Mast Store location features mercantile items that you may remember from your grandma’s house like jams and jellies, real maple syrup, stoneground cornmeal, comfortable rocking chairs, sturdy hiking boots, comfortable casual shoes, and Chacos. Located along the Mission Crossing Scenic Byway, this mountain tradition will greet you with the warmth of its potbellied stove and its people.

We stayed the first night at the Mast Farm Inn with is just down the road from the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis.  It was raining much of the time.  The Inn has a few rooms in it and there are cabins scattered about. We stayed in a small cabin.  It is very quaint and extremely well done but our cabin overlooked the road and there was a lot of traffic on the road, read noise. So I am not certain I would recommend it unless that kind of stuff does not bother you.   Breakfast was beyond gourmet belief!

We had a nice porch with rocking chairs. The leaves had already peaked by the time we arrived. 

Here is our cabin from the exterior:

There are other cabins on the property:

The entire area is very well done.

Another view of the main house:

I love the moss growing on the roof of this building behind the main part of the inn:

This is a good spot for those who like things a bit more rustic, although it is quite sophisticated and elegant in its own understated way.  We did not dine here but that is an options. Reservations are a must. 

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