Those details settled, we took ourselves off to Culpeper for the first of repeated visits to “It’s About Thyme”, an excellent European-style restaurant that is patronized by any and all diners in the know.
Early dinner was followed by early bedtime in preparation for the following days’ hunt. We left for the Mt.
Elery meet with Rappahannock Hunt around 7:30 AM.
There was plenty of huffing and puffing as we tacked our horses in the frigid 27 degree temperatures.
The boys [Roscoe and Rx –Ricky] were undoubtedly talking bad about us as we’d left them unblanketed the night before it being in the low 60’s. Now, there was one issue we soon resolved, but not before this meet.
I’d brought some hay from home which was in the dressing room as was other equipment and the potty.
Someone, who will remain nameless, had the most disquieting experience of riding throughout this hunt with hay in their underwear. [Don’t ask, we’re not telling.] We joined the 42 riders in second flight behind 27 first flight riders.
There were many faces familiar to me from earlier VHW encounters and some new ones with unmistakable Irish accents.
Elery Farm was splendid riding over the course of the next four hours.
We Long Islanders soon learned the importance of having horses who will peacefully allow their riders to open and close large gates.
Our horses didn’t seem to mind the varied terrain which included fairly steep hills and lots of stream crossings. The luncheon in the immaculate converted carriage barn was lavish and plentiful.
I had a chance to catch up with Cindy Morton, MFH of Rockbridge Hunt and one of the founders of VHW back in 2K.
And I met lots of new friends who we hunted with throughout the week. On Sunday, it was again 26 frosty degrees in the early morning hours as we left for Groveton Farm, the site of the Middleburg Hunt meet.
We joked about turning right back around when we viewed an agile, red fox illuminated by our headlights as it crossed the road in front of us.
This stunningly beautiful farm hosted about 70 riders for a 3 1/2 hour meet.
Hounds worked diligently in the warming temperatures and followed scent with enthusiasm.
Second flight put in plenty of galloping time as gates routinely used for speedy passage were double padlocked.
Our field mistress at one point dismantled a jump to allow us to regain hounds.
Another lavish champagne tea was most welcomed by all.
Middleburg has designed a striking scarf for the MFHA centennial celebration.
It depicts hounds from their pack along with names of fixtures in their country.
IMHO, it is indistinguishable from an Hermes. Riding home from Groveton, Cindy and I chanced upon three hounds that we promptly stashed in her car.
Brooke, Ashley and Frolic were perfectly happy to get a ride back to the kennels instead of negotiating Fox Croft Rd.
And we were happy to see them safely home. Monday was a shopping day and we started at the Old Habit in Marshall, Va.
Our attempts to secure tickets to the Gold Cup International Steeplechase races were lengthy and tortuous owning to the profound confusion of a salesperson whom we uncharitably dubbed, Vacuous Vicky.
We restrained ourselves from saying, “Don’t make my New York show.” We had lunch at the Red Fox Inn in Middleburg and were treated to quite a show as a busload of “Red Hats” was dining there, as well.
Some of those ladies showed sartorial splendor along with their joie de vivre. The next spots were the Middleburg Tack Exchange, the Tack Box and the Saddlery Liquidators.
I had a hair-raising experience at the last spot.
I’d brought my JRT, Chelsea with me on this trip and she was welcomed at all the horse shops.
At Saddlery Liquidators, the gal said I needn’t carry her if she wanted to stroll around the store.
Chelsea was exploring and so was I when my cell phone rang and a woman’s voice asked if I owned a little dog.
It seems Chelsea’s interests had taken her out of the store unbeknownst to us and she was happily in a passer-by’s arms as I dashed out to find them.
That was the last off-leash time Chelsea spent that day.
Putting my cell number on her ID tag certainly helped. It was around then that I realized I’d also lost my credit card.
What a PITA.
I retraced my steps to no avail and reluctantly called to cancel it. We’d bought as many horse items as we could rationalize, so we headed back to the B&B after picking up Chinese takeout.
While we hooked up the trailer, we found ourselves trying to line up the hitch and the ball by manually “jiggling” a three-horse trailer and shoving a huge truck.
We did succeed in doing this, but the calm with which we approached moving hundreds of pounds of equipment flabbergasted us. Sadly, the incessant rain throughout the night necessitated a cancellation of the meet scheduled by Old Dominion on Tues.
We slept late and were happy we’d put rain sheets on our horses the night before.
I was able to pick up e-mail and got a message that my credit card had been found and returned to the Saddlery Liquidators which confirmed my faith in the intrinsic honesty of many horsemen. Cindy and I unhitched again and went to McMahon’s Irish Pub near Warrenton for a most hearty lunch.
We had the pleasure of meeting David Ingramm, the President of Thornton Hill Hunt who was visiting at our B&B when we returned.
We accepted his invitation to cap on Friday and were assured that he would personally lead the second flight group that we’d join.
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