This year?s 54th Annual Hunt Country Stable Tour features numerous estates in Virginia horse country, opening their gates to visitors on Memorial Day weekend, May 25 - 26. Experience a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the plush life of some of Virginia?s most famous equines, with visits to breeding farms, competition farms and more. From newborn foals, to jumpers and polo ponies, and even horses swimming for exercise, you'll see how equine athletes are bred, trained, fed and cared for.
The Hunt Country Stable Tour features more than a dozen notable stops, including Ardarra Farm, Hickory House Farm, Salem Stable, Windsor Farm, and Peace & Plenty at Bollingbrook.
Earlier this year, Ardarra Farm which is dedicated to wildlife preservation and continuation of foxhunting, installed solar panels on the barn, making all stable operations fully reliant on solar energy.
On Saturday, May 25, the Piedmont Coaching Club will provide a hunting demo from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hickory House Farm, originally part of a land grant from King George II to Lord Fairfax, now dedicated to raising and training sport horses, will host a show jumping demo Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Salem Stable is a prime stop for history buffs as the site of the beginning of the Battle of Upperville. Re-enactors will take visitors back to the Civil War, giving guests a look at camp life during the war.
Windsor Farm, a breeding and early training facility for show horses, will provide a jumping demo featuring young horses in training each day at 11 a.m.
Peace & Plenty at Bollingbrook began as part of a 9,600-acre land grant from Lord Fairfax to Robert ?King? Carter in 1712. Now, in addition to being an equine and cattle farm, it also operates as a haven for rescued animals.
To get the most out of the tour, start your day early. On Saturday only at the Middleburg Training Track, you just might see the next Secretariat getting his early schooling. The track opens at 7 a.m., with coffee and donuts available. This is where many local racehorses are trained and other competition horses are exercised.
The National Sporting Library is holding a book fair that will feature four distinguished authors. Authors Rita May Brown, Charles de Kunffy, Dorothy Ours, and Jan Neuharth will be on hand to speak and sign books. This event will take place Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The library will be open Saturday and the museum on Sunday.
The Middleburg Agricultural Research & Extension (MARE) Center will feature foal handling demonstrations Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Heronwood?s Yearling barn, open to the public only for the tour, was featured in the book Ultimate Horse Barns by Randy Leffingwell. Heronwood is also home to a colorful herd of Alpacas. Visitors to Heronwood will be able to ask questions and see products made of Alpaca wool.
The Virginia International Polo Club at historic Llangollen will hold a polo match Sunday at 4 p.m.
Proceeds from the Hunt Country Stable Tour support Trinity Church and its many local, national and international charities and non-profit programs.
Tickets are available Saturday and Sunday at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville (about 45 minutes from Washington, DC) or at any of the stops on the tour. To get to Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, take I-66 West to Route 50 West (Exit 57B) toward Winchester or Route 50 East from I-81 at Winchester.? Trinity Episcopal Church is on Route 50 in Upperville.
For more information on the tour, visit Hunt Country Stable Tour or call 540-592-3711. Maps and directions are available and farms are well marked for the drive.