Sperryville column for May 16

Trail rides like no other

Thornton Hill Fort Valley Hounds’ summer 2013 trail rides are open to the riding public – an opportunity to ride out Western as well as English, with beginner and seasoned riders alike welcome.

At 5 p.m. Friday, May 31 riders, at a walk, will leave from Turkey Mountain – hallowed ground hunted in bygone days by such larger-than-life locals as Jack Bruce (Diane’s father), a well-known huntsman, and Jim Bill Fletcher, MFH. For some, the ride from Turkey Mountain will be like coming home.

At 9 a.m. Sunday, June 9, the ride will leave from Chancellor’s Gate (on Route 231 south of Montpelier) and at 9 a.m. Sunday, June 23, from Mountain View (south of Eldon Farms in Woodville). All of the rides take place on lands privately held, generously offered by the landowners; the opportunity to savor the countryside is special indeed.

For more information and directions, call Kat Gray at 540-364-2952 or Beth Opitz at 540-664-3901. The hunt monitor (540-987-8302) can let you know about any changes due to weather. The rides cost $25 per person and include a cookout afterwards.

Pastures and other Rappahannock pastimes

Under the competent guidance of Mt. Vernon Farm’s Mike and Molly Peterson, 175 head of cattle were recently rotated from pasture to pasture in Gid Brown Hollow – a practice embraced by a growing number of Rappahannock farmers, who report spectacular results. (Anyone wishing to witness an example of the results has only to drive along Gid Brown, check out the rich, thick pastures belonging to Dick McNear, a respected local farmer and champion of pasture rotation.)

The McNears’ cattle are led to a new pasture in Gid Brown. Photo by Chris Doxzen.
The McNears’ cattle are led to a new pasture in Gid Brown. Photo by Chris Doxzen.

For my cousin Christina Muenks, visiting Rappahannock for the first time and working in Germany for a prominent livestock feed and research company, observing first hand the cattle rotation and learning about this practice was valuable indeed.

Along with experiencing cattle crossings, Christina also had an opportunity to go fishing for the first time in her life, and Aaron of Skyline Trout Farm in Old Hollow delighted her with his genuine enthusiasm for the sport and his quiet patience. She came home with five freshly caught rainbow trout from the crystalline spring-fed water.

More Rappahannock experiences were in store, though not all in Rappahannock. Our county was proudly represented at the Virginia Gold Cup by Jackie Meuse, of our own Little Washington Spa. Her Gold Cup tent was filled with all things spa-related, including a massage demonstration. And, of course, what would the Gold Cup be without the presence of our own Heather Marsh of Turkey Hill Stables? Heather’s business includes boarding, trail rides and training of horse and rider.

Not to be outdone treating a visitor to Rappahannock’s treasures, Barbara and Thorne Auchter hosted a celebration of spring with a magnificent party at their Merrymead estate in Gid Brown Hollow. Hundreds of mostly locals arrived to savor the bluegrass genius of Richard Brady’s band – a music genre heretofore unheard by Christina, who says she’s now a convert. The guests included so many delightful folks, from the Websters to the Chandlers, the Moreys delighting all with the adorable triplet boys and new little girl Ella; Nina Mae and Colby; the Massies, Big Tom and Aney; Susannah and Brad Barnes and their lovely family; our own cherished Kid Pan Alley maestro Paul Reisler and so many more.

Welcome to Rappahannock, Christina – and now you know why we are so passionate about our beautiful home.

Chris Green
About Chris Green 132 Articles

Chris Green (formerly Chris Doxzen) is an an executive recruiter by profession who enjoys exploring and writing about all things Rappahannock. Friends and neighbors with potential stories for her Sperryville column should email her at chrisdoxzen@gmail.com.