One of the major benefits to living in the DC area is participating in Smithsonian Resident Associates programs. In 1994 we signed up on something a little different from our usual industrial archeology: A tour of the nearby Virginia "horse country." The name of the program was "Thoroughly Thoroughbred," but two of the four farms we visited did not specialize in Thoroughbreds. One specifically focused on a warmblood breed. No matter, they are all horses.

As it happened, I was slowly recovering from getting ditched from one of my own horses, so I hobbled around a bit, but enjoyed the tour just the same.

I can't find this program in the current list of Smithsonian Associates offerings, so I'll just have to rely on a foggy memory for the details.

The first stop was a steeplechase training facility. I didn't get any good pictures there and I no longer remember the name. The trainer gave us an overview of what is involved in such training and we watched a group of young horses run training laps over hurdles.

Next we visited a hunter barn and received an introduction to show hunters. They had a very noted Thoroughbred stallion come out to show his stuff over fences. I got a couple of pictures, but none of them were very good. I remembered the name of the stallion for quite a while because at the time I was mulling over a plan to breed one of my mares. The thought of an accomplished Anglo-Arab was very appealing. That never happened and over the years I've forgotten his name. He was a beautiful and talented animal.


Hanoverian Mare

Our third stop of the day was at a Hanoverian breeding farm called, as I remember, "Mare Heaven." I can't find anything online now in 2019 that resembles it.

An attractive feature of the Hanoverian studbook is that horses approved for breeding must meet defined standards of conformation, athletic ability, trainability, and disposition. All horse breeds should require such evaluations.

This mare shows correct conformation and substance. We also watched a dressage demonstration.


Side saddle

Our final stop featured a discipline rather than any particular breed.

I had been fascinated by riding "aside" for many years and this would have been the stop that got me to sign up for the program. I no longer remember the name of the farm or its trainer and I'm unable to unearth any information on the WWW that helps me out.

The presenter had been a champion competitor in the "appointments" division. Riders are judged as much on their get-up as on their performance. The sandwich case must contain a sandwich: cheese with trimmed bread. The flask must contain either sherry or tea. Etc.

The demonstrator was focused on performance. She wasn't even wearing an apron, that part that looks like a skirt, but really isn't.

Some years after this visit I had the opportunity to attend a sidesaddle clinic with my horse Cookie. It was great fun, but I never got around to making the investment in a proper saddle (very expensive) and clothes (very expensive unless you make them yourself).


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