Friday, October 14, 2011

Of Washington and Horses (Our Nation's Capital That Is!)

I spent the day in Washington, DC visiting a very dear friend that I have not seen in 10 years and began thinking about our nation's capitol, a place I called home for 5 wonderful years, and horses (of course).  Believe it or not, horses were once a big part of the landscape, even at the White House (yes, Caroline had a pony there) and Macaroni was allowed to graze on the White House lawn (and he loved to eat the roses).  Don't you just love it! 

While Jackie grew up surrounded by horses, she would retreat to her rented estate in Middleburg (about 25 miles west) as Jack was allergic to animal fur.  There were stables at one time at the White House (torn down by President Taft to make way for his cars!).  Stombeck's Fine Riding Apparel on M Street in Georgetown supplied Jackie's riding apparel during Camelot.  And bet you did not know that her connection to the designer Oleg Cassini was an equestrian one - he was a former instructor in the U.S. Army Cavalry Unit, was a former polo player and hunted. 

Regan also rode in Rock Creek as did Teddy Roosevelt.  Today you can still ride in Rock Creek Park even if you are not a President or married to one. 

Meadowbrook Stables is a wonderful place and has a great lesson program. Trainer Miranda Scott does a great job and her students win a lot! That's her on the left below in the photo.  It is a fun place.  They also offer clinics with well-known equestrians and their Washington Bridle Trails Show Series is wonderful for horsemen at all levels. 

While we are talking about Washington, D.C. and horses, bet you did not know that once, a very long time ago (not that long ago really), there was a stables that was a part of the grand design of Reston, VA.

If you aren't familiar with Reston, it was one of the very first large "planned communities" in the U.S., way ahead of its time. Today, it is right in the middle of things (you go through it on the way to Dulles Airport out the toll road, beyond Tyson's Corner).  The photo above is from an early brochure touted for "horse enthusiasts" with a "community stable" surrounded by townhouses.  (Probably from the mid 1960's).

But even more amazing is that these stables were actually built.  These were built but early on they collapsed.  The story tells us that the treated lumber corroded the nail/bolts that held everything together.  (And we think we have shoddy construction today!).  All we have left in Reston is "Hunter's Woods Shopping Center" and "Paddock Lane", "Trotter Lane" and "Colts Neck Way" - but these exist now in almost every suburban development that wants to think that at one time, they were "really equestrian."  At least in Reston, there really were horses, once.

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