Rhonda Lane on June 17th, 2009
The Virginina Hunt Country Stable Tour is fun for the whole family/Photo by Rhonda Lane

The Virginia Hunt Country Stable Tour is fun for the whole family/Photo by Rhonda Lane

A pack of happy hounds. Civil War re-enactors playing the fiddle from horseback.  A cheese tasting. Horses swimming in a special indoor pool.

That’s a minor sampling of what we saw on the Virginia Hunt Country Stable Tour, which has been an annual fundraiser for an Upperville church for the past fifty years.

This post will be the first in a series  about my recent trip to northern Virginia.

Although my friend and I spent one day in Washington, DC, the focus of our trip was the Virginia Hunt Country Stable Tour.

Farms that usually do not open their gates to the public do so for this tour, which benefits the Trinity Episcopal Church.

We started with a little swim.

A horse enters the indoor pool. An assistant raises the walkway plank across the entry ramp/Photo by Rhonda Lane

A horse enters the indoor pool. An assistant raises the walkway plank across the entry ramp/Photo by Rhonda Lane

The Northern Virginia Animal Swim Center

Nestled in a hollow deep in the woods is an indoor pool for horses and dogs.

As it is for people, swimming is a good way to condition and exercise without stressing the joints. Let alone the hooves.

The 12-foot-deep equine pool is at one side with a ramp into the water. The narrower and shallower canine pool is at the other side of the natatorium. (See the horse head? The water photographed dark, so spotting the dark bay head in the photo can be a challenge.)

The Middleburg Animal Research and Extension (MARE) Center

An equine dentist shows us the molars on a replica of a stallion's skull while a mare relaxes in the background

An equine dentist shows us the molars on a replica of a stallion's skull while a mare relaxes in the background

An equine dentist showed us the tools he uses, explained with a replica of a stallion’s skull and floated a mare’s teeth.

Not just tourists, but experienced horse people who have floated equine teeth themselves crowded around to watch and learn.

Heronwood

"Hello. I'm new. Are YOU my mommy?"/Photo by Rhonda Lane

"Hello. I'm new. Are YOU my mommy?"/Photo by Rhonda Lane

Heronwood has horses and alpacas. A booth with a tent was filled with alpaca wool products. Had this been October with a chill in the air instead of Memorial Day weekend with sunshine, 80 degrees and 70% humidity, I might have been more inspired to shop for woolen items.

Does your tack room look like this? Ha! Didn't think so/Heronwood Farm/Photo by Rhonda Lane

Does your tack room look like this? Ha! Didn't think so/Heronwood Farm/Photo by Rhonda Lane

Heronwood also has a new state-of-the-art barn that they call the yearling barn. It has skylights and a tack room with a pristine area rug as padding for booted feet.

As my friend said, “There’s a difference between having horses for money and having horses with money.”

Behind the yearling barn was a round pen with two happy-to-see-us sequestered Shelties eager to see somebody come say “hello.”

The Red Horse Tavern

The patio at the Red Horse Tavern in downtown Middleburg, VA/Photo by Rhonda Lane

The patio at the Red Horse Tavern in downtown Middleburg, VA/Photo by Rhonda Lane

For our lunch on the first day, we went back into Middleburg to eat.

The Red Horse Tavern is right on US 50, the main drag through Middleburg and Upperville.

We sat out on the patio for burgers and salads. I also had some great iced tea and sorta-Derby-Pie ala mode.

So, what did we do after lunch? We went to the dogs and met the big cheese, among other things.

I don’t want you readers with machines that download too slowly to get bogged down with a bunch of photos. So … this is a good opportunity to give me a heads-up.

If you can’t see the photos, post that you can’t see them in the comments below. I’ll set something up on one of the photo sharing sites.

More later from Virginia.

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