My horse Esprit and I are in Middleburg, Va., the “Nation’s Horse & Hunt Capitol,” for 10 days in preparation for the Maryland Horse Trials. This is our journal.
I’ve always wanted to visit Middleburg. I have this vision of it in my head as a mecca for horse people, a place where can you can wear your breeches to the grocery store and nobody looks at you funny. Maybe you run into Karen O’Connor in the produce section, picking through a bin of avocados. A place where streets are lined with tack shops, and the pub is full of swarthy polo players looking for a good time. You look out your window in the morning and there are hounds running at full cry through your front yard, followed by a stampeding herd of huntsmen and ladies riding sidesaddle.
So when my buddy Lisa said she was going up to the ‘Burg for a week and a half to do a couple horse trials in Maryland and catch up with her peeps at the Chronicle of the Horse, for whom she works remotely, I claimed the empty spot in her trailer. Tennessee is miserable this time of the year, and I figured that being further north, it had to be cooler, right? Plus, Maryland Horse Trials II is supposed to be a good move-up event, so I thought it’d be a good confidence builder for my baby Prelim event horse Esprit. Plus, I didn’t really have anything better to do.
We got up here yesterday afternoon and settled into our temporary residence. Lisa’s friend Sara, also from the Chronicle, is kindly putting us and our horses up at her home farm. It’s an adorable, cozy place in the middle of nowhere. I like Sara. All she talks about all of the time is horses, which is consistent with my preconceived notions of Middleburg and the kind of horse freaks who live here.
Lisa pointed out that I have no real proof that we are actually in Middleburg since we haven’t actually left the farm yet. (Update: We ended up going to dinner at a place called Chopsticks in nearby Winchester, which has a Walmart and an Applebee’s and is definitely not Middleburg.) Lisa suggested that, since I slept a good chunk of the way here, she could have actually driven us to Iowa. There are definitely a lot of cornfields. Sara could be a doppelganger. It isn’t any cooler here than it was at home.
Anyway, assuming that Lisa is just pulling my chain, I’m sure I’ll have much more exciting things to report tomorrow. My big plans for the day include riding my horse, going to the Maryland Horse Trials I as Lisa’s head groom and cheerleader, and hopefully meeting the ‘Burg in person.
I’ll leave you with some Middleburg trivia:
- Population: 976 according to the 2010 Census
- Middleburg was established in 1787 by Revolutionary War Lieutenant Colonel and Virginia statesman, Levin Powell
- The male-to-female ratio is approximately 72:100
- Middleburg is the home of the 15,000-square-foot National Sporting Library research center for horse and field sports
- The Chronicle of the Horse has been published in Middleburg since 1937
- The Red Fox Inn is a super-old hotel. It was used as a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers, so I bet it’s haunted
- Middleburg is named as the location of mysterious crop circles in Scary Movie 3
- The New Hampshire scenes in the season three of The West Wing were filmed in Middleburg
- Famous Middleburg residents include: John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, the girl who played “Rudy” on The Cosby Show, and several noted philanthropists, politicians and billionaires
- Linda Tripp and her husband own and operate the Christmas Sleigh, a store in Middleburg