My friend Sue and I were both 'horsey girls' long before we met in college. In fact, we went to different colleges originally and must have ridden against each other as we were each on our school's respective riding teams. Then we met at SUNY Delhi and have been boon companions alllll these years since.
"Hey, Robin, want to go to Walnut Hill for the day to watch the driving competitions?"
What a silly question!
So off we went and had a great time despite rain. The carriage driving at Walnut Hill seemed to me to harken back to a more genteel time when everyone dressed nicely and no one seemed in a hurry. I found it much more enjoyable than watching the driving classes at the state fair. That's probably not fair to the people at that venue but with the ring being outside, seating under the trees, no crazy music or noise from the midway, white tents with white tables and chairs where you could sit and sip the cocktail made for you by the honest-to-gosh white jacketed bartender.... it's just got a totally different feel than other shows I've been to.
The 'barns' for housing the horses were actually specialized tents. There were several tent barns set up and I saw license plates on trailers from as far away as Florida. Clearly the horses were all well mannered and refined too since the walls were only canvas. Staying in your stall was more of a polite suggestion than a command. ;-)
Exhibitors were busy with horses and equipment, either getting ready for their next class or rinsing the mud off the carriage wheels from the last outing.
This cart looks like the carriage world's version on an ATV! I'm guessing it's made sturdy for training.
It wasn't really possible to get close to the horses during the actual classes. These four-in-hand teams had just finished their class when we came onto the grounds. Such a grand sight to see teams of four horses turned out so beautifully with shiny harness and bright paint and footmen in uniforms. It's easy to see the romance of that lifestyle, especially from the safety and security of 2017.
There were a few classes particularly for ponies while we were there and charming little ponies they were! It was a pleasure to watch them clipping along.
It's a little pixilated but look at the white Shetland pony second from the left. So cute and little when he was trotting it made my voice go up an octave. ;-)
And the vendors there were primarily horse oriented in one way or another, whether driving or fox hunting, or offering equipment, or painting portraits of your horses or dogs from photos. Although, some how these guys snuck in. And really, who doesn't need a pig made out of horse shoes?
But the art for sale is what impressed me the most, in particular a booth filled with hand painted furniture. One would have to have the right home (and coordinating wallet) to bring these pieces home but did I ever drool over them. Trust me, the pictures don't do them justice. (Pics taken with permission of the artist).
And even though it was an equestrian venue I still found wool! A pair of beautifully needlefelted purses - a clutch purse size and matching coin purse.
We caught one last class on our way out - the Old Guard's class, wherein all the drivers were required to be 65 years or older. By then the sun had come out and it was a delight to see all the exhibitors and think that they were all enjoying their passion, and managing it just fine, well into their 'seasoned citizen' years. May we all be so lucky!
There's that teeny white Shetland pony again, in the center!
And the class winner drove an interesting unicorn hitch of three horses.
If you've never gone to this event I encourage you to mark your calendar for next year. The show runs for five days and any one of them will be a treat to watch even if you aren't a bona fide 'horsey girl.'