GOING TO THE DOGS
Lisa and Zohar Ben-Dov – along with Diane Spreadbury and Montie Gibson – hosted a cocktail reception at Kinross Farm to introduce two marvelous dogs from Canine Companions for Independence. Bailey and Brad Davis, Carolyn and Doc Saffer, Dagmar Wittmer, Cindy and Mark Thompson and many more came to meet Caroline Elgin (a resident of nearby Aldie), Sajen and Buddy Hayes and pooch Ellie. These clever dogs not only open doors, but they’ve also mastered the art of blogging, as this excerpt evidenced: “This was not just any farm, but a racehorse farm, complete with its own track. It was an awesome view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I was treated like royalty and everyone wanted to meet me and speak to me,” barked one precocious pup.
The Ben-Dovs have recently finished renovating Poplar Grove. The 160-acre property – which they saved from development – is just across the road from Atoka Farm, the former home of Senator John Warner. The ever-generous Ben-Dovs also hosted a reception for the Atoka Preservation Society. Guests included Senator Warner and his daughter Virginia Warner, as well as neighbors Mia and Donald Glickman, Jackie Gammons and a slew of other committed citizens interested in protecting this special corner of the countryside. It’s quite a corner – it includes historical treasures like the Caleb Rector House, where Confederate Col. John Singleton Mosby signed documents converting his Civil War Rangers into Company A of the 43rd Battalion of the Virginia Cavalry.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The Outlaw returned to Llangollen Farm for a spectacular weekend of coaching. For the uninitiated, The Outlaw is a road coach and was once owned by the late Elizabeth Whitney Tippett, former mistress of the magnificent 1,100-acre estate in Upperville (now owned by Patricia and Donald Brennan).
These days, The Outlaw – pulled by four brown and white Paint horses – is owned by Phyllis Mills Wyeth and driven by James O’Rourke. Phyllis’s husband, artist Jamie Wyeth, joined her for a whirlwind weekend of events (A tiny image of a swine has been painted on the door of her yellow-and-black coach as a subtle reminder of Jamie’s famous “Portrait of a Pig”).
Phyllis’ sister Mimi Abel-Smith and brother Jimmy Mills joined her on The Outlaw for a stunning drive from the Upperville Horse Show grounds to Llangollen for a luncheon party with a record number of horses, coaches and carriages from around the country. Phyllis’ parents, the late Alice and James Mills, used to own the 381-acres of Hickory Tree Farm in Middleburg, which was sold last spring for over $9 million to Mary Lea and Jim Treptow.
Coaching participants included Gloria Austin, Bruce Duchossois of Aiken, South Carolina, Tucker Johnson of Hobe Sound and Don Rosato of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. Gloria has 150 carriages – one of the largest collections in the country – at her farm near Ocala, Florida.
Held for the benefit of the National Sporting Library in Middleburg and co-chaired by coaching enthusiasts Jacqueline Ohrstrom and George A. “Frolic” Weymouth, the weekend included a reception at the library, a dinner party hosted by Jacqueline Mars and several cocktail parties and cross country drives in elegant carriages. The guards on the rear of these coaches blew three-foot-long brass horns to provide joyful fanfare for the journey and to alert others on the road. Used today in the same universal key, these long, low pitched calls include Change Horses, Near Side, Slacken Pace, Pull Up and Steady.
Inside a glittering and glowing tent, the ball – and the highlight of the weekend – took place. Set up within the legendary horse-shoe-shaped barn (the very same stable where Liz Tippet once kept a black bear in a stall … when he wasn’t chained to a tree), it was complemented by the nearby grandeur of a 13,000 square foot formal Georgian-inspired columned manor house, built in 1830.
Manuel Johnson, chairman of the library, and his wife Mary and charming sister Mary Holman Johnson danced the night away with Charley Matheson and Julie Martin, Gail and Malcolm Matheson, Alex and Walter Woodson, Rein and Mike duPont, Barbara and Victor duPont, Lee and Michael McGettigan, Betsee Parker and Marlou and John Gregory. Peter Duchin and his orchestra kept guests on the floor all night.
The traditions of the grand hunt balls – frequented by the likes of Doris Duke, Elsa Maxwell, Eddie Arcaro and Prince Aly Khan – continue today. Just ask Patti and Phil Thomas, Annie Cleland (who designed the centerpieces created from 2,000 roses), Douglas Hytla and Richard Arentz, Mary and Peter Winants and Karen and Hector Alcalde.
ALONG THE ROAD
It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s nonetheless true; sometimes one has to travel away from home in order to see one’s neighbors. Such was the case when two groups from Middleburg found themselves at Café Milano in Georgetown. The Hunt Country Society of Gardeners (of which the men are the members and the wives are also included): Michael and Jenette Petite, Frank and Ruth Ripley, Bob and Linda Newtown, Bill and Nancy Dunlap, Hank and Betty Long were in town after visiting the garden of Jim van Sweden. And who do they run into but neighbors Jacqueline Mars and Janet Whitehouse, attending a goodbye luncheon in honor of Lady Manning.
HUNT COUNTRY CALENDAR
November 2 through 4: The 11th Annual Beastie Bazaar, at Ayrshire Farm in Upperville; email@example.com
November 4: A Different Angle harpsichord performance by Don Angle to benefit the Friends of Music at the Smithsonian; Buchanan Hall in Upperville; www.smithsonian.org, 301 652-3311.
November 8 through 10: The 58th annual Christmas Shop sponsored by Emmanuel Church; www.emmanuelmiddleburg.org; 540-687-6297.
December 1: Christmas in Middleburg Parade and street fair; Middleburg; 540 687-5152.