Archive for the ‘Horses’ Category

For Sale At Historic Arlington Plantation Overlooking The Shores Of The Chesapeake Bay On The Eastern Shore Of Virginia

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Along the south shore of  the Old Plantation Creek inlet where it converges with the Chesapeake Bay close to what is now the quaint little town of Cape Charles,  Arlington Plantation was founded on the Eastern Shore  VirginiaThis special site is one of the most historic properties in our nation yet its significance is  little known.   For many centuries this area was inhabited by native American Indians, until occupation by English settlers of this site  and the area up to the Kings Creek inlet three miles north, Sir Thomas Dale established the first permanent settlement of English colonists on the Eastern Shore in 1617 known as Dale’s Gift.  Here, half a century later, a plantation was founded by John Custis II whose prosperity was demonstrated by the construction of the most magnificent mansion on the whole of the Chesapeake Bay.  Apparently he named the plantation in honor of his family’s benefactor, Lord Arlington,  although the name was possibly derived from the English village Arlington-Bibury,  home to the first generation of the Custis family.   More than three hundred fifty years after Arlington mansion first rose high above the waters of Old Plantation Creek,  the name itself still lives on, engrained in the minds of all Americans as the land upon which  thousands of  American soldiers rest eternally,  Arlington National Cemetary.

National recognition of the Custis name began when, in 1759, the widow of John Custis IV’s son Daniel, Martha Dandridge Custis and the heir to Arlington Plantation,  married army Colonel George Washington when he was only twenty-six years old.  As was the custom of the times, on his way to becoming the father of our country,  Washington  managed the affairs of his wife’s property here on the Eastern Shore.  And in the  paradoxical  twists and turns of history,  Martha’s great-granddaughter, Mary A. R. Custis to whom both Arlington estates passed,  married another young Army officer, who would become, like George Washington, an icon of the American story.  It is indeed ironic that Robert E. Lee would take reluctant command of the Confederacy’s  Army of  Northern Virginia which strived to split the nation that was hardwon by his wife’s  legendary ancestor,  its first President.   And so the prestigeous Custis family,  which founded Arlington Plantation on the Eastern Shore and Arlington Plantation on the Potomac River, links  George Washington, the Revolutionary War and the founding of our nation with Robert E. Lee,  the Civil War and the near destruction of the nation.

The name of the Custis family ancestral plantation, Arlington,  lives on today in the American consciousness despite the destruction of its mansion more than two-hundred fifty years ago.  In the early part of the nineteenth century, Martha’s grandson George Washington Parke Custis, who was adopted by General Washington and his wife as their son, built a mansion near Mt. Vernon overlooking the Potomac River.  He called it   “Arlington”  after the first Custis home on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and the vast lands surrounding  his mansion  became the National Cemetary after the Civil War.  The  Arlington mansion on the Eastern Shore was abandoned sometime during the early part of the 18th century.  Its ruins were pilaged and what was left eventually became buried in the farm fields surrounding its site,  the only evidence of its grandeur that remained were the prominent tombs of John Custis II and his grandson, John Custis IV.

During the spring of 1987,  an archeological survey of the Arlington plantation site near the Custis Tombs revealed sections of a brick foundation for a very large structure that was covered by a foot of soil plowed over a hundred years of farming activity. During 1994, an intensive archeological investigation of the cellars of the mansion was conducted. Eye witness accounts of the mansion dating from 1709  offer brief glimpses of its size,  elevations and orientation to the Chesapeake Bay.  As well, the beautifully  preserved historic records in Northampton County courthouse provide additional sources of information about Arlington.   A 1688 reference about a visit to the house in a lawsuit filed that year is one of the first mentions of a separate dining room in an early Colonial home in Virginia. This annecdote substantiates the archaeological findings at Arlington which determined the house to be the most architecturally sophisticated house of that period,  at least fifty years ahead of its time.*

Such a large home,  built of brick masonry,  required laborers and materials and facilities for making the bricks. It is believed that the kilns for firing the newly made bricks are located 3/8 mile south of the ruins on a 15 acre tract of land that contains a modern two bedroom home and barn with horse stable.  Behind the home,  hidden in the forest and covered with the detritus of fallen leaves,  vines and dirt are piles of old and crumbling bricks.  That site is at the head of a shallow tidal pond that probably provided the water necessary for mixing the brick clay.  This property is one of several  now offered for sale by Blue Heron Realty Co. located on what were the original Arlington Plantation lands.

This house on 15 acres was built in 1999  and offers ultimate  seclusion,  peace and quiet with a  location only 1/2 mile from the Chesapeake Bay and its sparkling sand beaches.  With its vaulted ceiling over the great room and kitchen, an easy living lifestyle goes perfectly along with its private rural setting. Originally planned as a complimentary guest cottage for a larger manor home on the property, this cute cottage has a very spacious master bedroom with ensuite bath and walk-in closet and a guest bedroom with full  bath. The enclosed porch overlooks the 2 acre fenced horse paddock and barn. The paddock is encircled with an underground electric dog fence and behind the barn is a four unti professional quality dog kennel. See redlined property in aerial photo at top of page.

Also available for purchase is a beautiful Bayfront lot with 100′ of frontage on the Chesapeake Bay with a sandy beach shoreline and spectacular  sunset views to the west. Purchase of this lot offers membership in the Arlington Homeowners Association with benefits to use the boat ramp on Plantation Creek and the beautiful common area beach at the point of the entrance of the creek into the Chesapeake Bay, one of the best swimming spots on the Shore. See aerial photo with red arrow. Contact David Kabler (david_kabler@hotmail.com 757-647-1755) at Blue Heron’s Cape Charles office, 757-331-4885, for further information and an appointment to see these two special property offerings.

(*”Archeology at Arlington:Excavations at the Ancestral Custis Plantation, Northampton County, Virginia”; by Nicholas M. Luccketti; published by the Virginia Company Foundation and The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.)

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Carols, Candles And Sleigh Bells Marked The 2nd Annual “Grand Illumination” At Central Park In Cape Charles, VA

Friday, December 9th, 2011

It was a beautiful  Eastern Shore night for the Cape Charles 2nd Annual  “Grand Illumination”,  moon nearly full,  skies clear, stars shining down brightly on the event, temperatures in the mid-40’s,  cool-ish but  not cold.  ( Unlike last year at the 1st Annual  “Grand Illumination”  where  the wind was a little  brisk– I was  sorry I hadn’t brought a pair of gloves and worn a warmer blazer, finding myself doing  jazzercise steps to keep warm —  jingle bells, stomp-stomp-stomp,  jingle bells, stomp,stomp,stomp– you get the picture.)   Running a bit late, I  threaded  through the gathered crowd of  happy youngsters, oldsters,  teenies and toddlers,  to find Daughter #3,  daughter- in- law  # 1 and four grandkids who fortunately had already located good viewing spots near the front of  The  Gazebo at Cape Charles’  beautiful Central Park.  Caroling was just beginning,  kicked off by the  Master of Ceremonies,  Chris Bannon of Seagate B&B,  dressed in a bright red Santa hat and wrapped in a big holiday smile.

Dedicated  in September, 2010, the Cape Charles Central Park,  with its wide green, gracefully curving sidewalks, lovely fountain,  dozens of  Memorial Trees, elaborate children’s playground and The Gazebo,  is the glorious result of years of collective effort by the many, many volunteers of  ” Citizens For Central Park”  and  nearly a million dollars in  donations and grants.  It’s now the pride of  the little coastal town of  Cape Charles,  the site of  public events large and small,  a place for  individuals and families to enjoy a walk,  a jog,  a frisbee contest on a summer’s eve.  And now,  for the holidays,  it’s a magical place of trees and old-fashioned Victorian style lamp posts strung with thousands of  twinkling lights, colors galore and blazing white, a feast for  the eyes,  a sight for every passerby to enjoy as they light up the night.

Meanwhile,  back at  The Gazebo, folks were still arriving,  strolling down the Park’s  curving paths,  now lined with luminaries glowing brightly in the  darkness,  twinkling like little stars  fallen to earth,  everyone receiving  a candle .  Up on stage,  Santa and Mrs. Claus  ( a big shout-out  to Larry and Trina Veber, long time  Cape Charles residents,  for all the time they donate to make so many great local events even better),  gathered with the Mayor, the choir, some members of Cape Charles Town Council, Cape Charles Chief of Police, Commander of the Cape Charles Coast Guard Station as Chris Bannon gave a memorial tribute to Melvin Dudley, without whose tireless efforts  Central Park would not be what it is today.   In fact,  a beautiful red cedar has been been planted in a place of  honor near the playground as a Memorial Tree for Melvin Dudley and has been  designated as the now and future Official Christmas Tree  of Cape Charles.  Its plaque  reads: ” In honor of his dedication to Cape Charles, his gifts of wisdom,  his grand sense of humor,  his love of family and appreciation of the beauty of this environment.”  Then, a  flip of the switch and the Melvin R.  Dudley Memorial Tree  burst into brightly glowing colors, the first  tree to be illuminated.  As  dignitaries came down from the stage to  light the candles of those gathered below, golden flickers spread  until hundreds of candles glowed in the darkness, spreading light and good cheer as  carols continued to be sung and smiles contined to grow.   ‘Tis  after all,  The Season.  Then the big moment- Mayor Dora Sullivan asked everyone to blow out their candles  and turn towards the Park Green.  As they turned,  the entire Park leapt into color, everywhere trees and lampposts  glowed and twinkled  as thousands of points of  shining lights  enveloped Central Park in a brilliant blanket  of  sparkling luminous energy, evoking a wave of applause from the crowd as the 2nd Annual  “Grand Illumination”  was concluded.

Time then for visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus who had flown in straight from the North Pole just for this event !   Kids large and small lined up for a shy chat with Santa and a big hug from Mrs. Claus. It was really sweet and so authentic,  The Gazebo wreathed in brilliant blue lights, Santa and Mrs. Claus in bright red,  kids waiting patiently in line for a chance to whisper into Santa’s ear their deepest holiday wishes,  phone cameras clicking as parents snapped pictures,  reindeer nickering  just a few feet away,  their bells jingling gaily.  Well, not exactly reindeer,  actually more like horses…. but they definitely were nickering  and their manes were entwined with ribbons and little bells which jingled gaily at every toss of their bedecked  heads.

 

Thanks to the folks from the Triple M Ranch,  a 150 acre horse farm with winding  riding trails located just outside Cape Charles,  6 beautiful and patient horses and their  riders had gathered  at the entrance to Central Park so that kids of all ages, including myself, would have  a chance to pat  and talk to them. ( Check out Triple M at  www.triplemranches.com )  My youngest grandson, who is a bit awed by horses,  just loved seeing them all dressed up in their red and green holiday finery.  He even ventured a gentle stroking  of the neck  of  a small filly. What an unexpected treat,  it brought a real old-fashioned holiday flair to this  great small town event,  hope to see these reindeer, I mean horses,  again next year at Cape Charles’  3rd Annual “Grand Illumination” !

 

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Happy Trails… Taking An Eastern Shore Trail Ride

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Getting Ready For The Eastern Shore Trail Ride

A few weeks ago a friend and I dropped in on the spring Eastern Shore Trail ride to speak to a few of the folks who had come out for that Ride.  I was interested in learning  where the riders  were coming from and in taking a peek into a couple  of the live-in  horse trailers  ( when I say “live-in” I don’t mean just for the horses, I mean for the owners !)  At any rate,  when we  arrived most of  area was already set up,  trailers parked,  horses happily munching away on what I’m assuming were tasty chunks of  hay, etc.  I’m not sure just how many people or horses were there that afternoon but the  official  Eastern Shore Trail Ride web page (www.easternshoretrailride.com)  indicates that the Rides are limited as to the number of  participants, with only 250  previously registered horses and riders allowed.

On The Trail, A Very Comfy “Home Away From Home” For Both Horses And Riders

One of our first stops was at the handsome trailer of  some folks from up near Farmville, VA,  about 3  hours away,  who were just settling down with several friends to prepare what smelled like a scrumptious dinner.  They were kind enough to invite us to take a peek inside– surprisingly roomy,  with a bunk over the hitch area, cute kitchen with  a little  stove and microwave, built-in table with a window, a  bathroom that included a shower with skylight plus a satellite dish on the roof,  nearly all the comforts of home.   And the horse’s digs were great too !  After our peek into  their  “home away from home”  they were kind enough to then introduce us to a nearby friend, a  nice fellow in a 10 gallon Stetson,  hailing from from the mid- part of Virginia,  sitting on a robust 16 hand horse  ( showing my age again,  but he really reminded me of Hoss  from Ponderosa )  who had a  unique wedding last November … he and his bride,  a veterinarian who has more than 20 horses, were actually married in the saddle !  Definitely wishing  Happy Trails to them !

All the way from N.J., Grilling Corn, Potatoes, Shrimp And Steak On The BBQ

Walking on down the line,  we met 2 couples who had driven all the way from New Jersey to participate in this Ride,  their first time to come to the Shore.  I was curious and when I inquired as to why they would drive so far to ride their horses,  they indicated that they were really interested in seeing Virginia’s Eastern Shore and that the prospect of being able to ride their horses along a private beach was most intriguing to them. ( Lots of info on the trails, etc. plus an application to attend can be found on the official Eastern Shore Trail Ride website. )   They too were just beginning  to cook an aromatic meal over the fire,  corn on the cob and baked potatoes wrapped in foil already cooking,  with shrimp and steaks primed to  pop on the grill,   a great trail dinner for sure.  Walking back towards the car, we passed a sort of  “saddlery on wheels”,  with all kinds of items that might be needed by the riders on the spur of the moment, doing a brisk business, everybody laughing and talking in anticipation of the big ride the following morning.  It all seemed like a lot of fun to me and clearly the folks who were participating were looking forward to some happy  times on the trail.  And all for a good cause as the proceeds benefit  Northampton County Fire and Rescue Company 16.

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Wiley, My Eastern Shore of Virginia Arabian Horse. The On-going Saga, Part 6. Wiley Lands In “Time-Out”

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
My Arabian horse Wiley working on the lunge line

Wiley On The Lunge Line, Buffing Up Those Abs

Everyone has heard that old expression, “boys will be boys”,  it’s been used for eons to excuse rascally behavior from boys in  just about any age group.   And I’m of the opinion that this holds true for young boy horses as well !   For the first time ever,  Wiley now finds himself in  “time-out”  and he’s missing out on lots of  horse play. It all started when Wiley and my son, Chris,  were continuing  to prepare for the first Region 15 show of the season to be held in Raleigh, NC.   Down on the farm near Cape Charles,  Wiley was working on the lunge line,  doing sweeps of the ring to continue building  up his chest and  hind quarter muscles which lost a bit of their tone over the relaxing winter spent with his buddies in the pasture during the day and horsing around in the barn at night.  But now it’s walk, trot, canter, walk, trot, canter around and around the ring,  buffing up and practicing  voice commands as well.

Wiley my Arabian horse in his new braids

Wiley Sports His New Hairdo

In fairness to Wiley, there were several other  horses around and a fair amount of noise.  And Wiley was feeling pretty good about himself,  sporting his new haircut,  complete with handsome braids,  and  some “six pac” abs from the prior weeks of training,  showing a bit of attitude.  Well, in the excitement of the moment, Wiley lost his good judgement and before he realized it,  his mouth was on Chris’s arm.  Oh,oh, that’s a definite no-no !  And bad horses get put into “time-out” and on  restriction after that.  They don’t get the excitement of traveling to shows, they miss getting to meet  all those  pretty new fillies and the fun of  hooking up with last year’s show buddies.  Yup,  it’s no fun at all being left in the barn while all your stall mates are out of town,  living it up in Raleigh, complete with room service and in-stall showings of  “Seabiscuit”, “Secretariat” and “Black Beauty”. Poor Wiley, but  “no pain, no gain”  and  I’m sure he  has learned his lesson and will be  getting  it together before the next show.   P.S.  For those of our readers who are considering buying a horse property here on the Eastern Shore,  Blue Heron has just listed a beautiful 13 acre waterfront farmette,  with 1500 feet of shoreline with deep boating water, absolutely perfect for horses,  check it out at www.blueheronva.com and click on boating properties.

Wiley, My Eastern Shore of Virginia Arabian Horse. The On-Going Saga, Part 5. Wiley Learns About The Birds and The Bees !

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

This is Wiley’s second spring here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  a 2009 Christmas gift to me  from my son.   He has settled in so well, but then who wouldn’t love life on a huge waterfront farm south of Cape Charles, Virginia,  just grazing on the lush grasses,  cool Chesapeake Bay breezes  blowing through your mane,  dining on gourmet oats  every night in your  comfy stall in a  brand new barn ?    As  the very smart horse he is,  I’m  sure  Wiley  realizes  he’s living the life of Riley.

Week old colt with his mother

Welcome To The Eastern Shore, Little Guy !

Spring has sprung here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and with spring comes new life.  Wiley now has a brand new stable mate,  a little colt  which came  unexpectedly early,  born  quietly in the middle  of the night  and found bright-eyed and bushy tailed at  Bayview Farm’s  morning feed.   Now Wiley,  being a young bachelor,  had never actually been told about the  “birds and the bees”  or,  in this case,  about the mares and the stallions.   So he was pretty curious.  He knew it wasn’t a pony but was not quite sure if  was actually a horse.  It walks  pretty funny and  looks like it’s all legs,  with a head too big for such a small body.   But all in all,  Wiley thought he was a cute little fellow,  bay with a long white blaze and 4 white sox,  described by one of the  mares  who is  a serious  NASCAR   fan  as having  “lots of chrome” ,  and he has welcomed him as an additional stable mate so long as he  doesn’t  cry a lot during the night and  disturb his beauty sleep.  And he’ll need all the deep beauty sleep he can possibly get because this is the time of year that every horse aspiring to be a show ring star needs to get to work to get back in shape.

As anyone who owns  equestrian property here on the Shore knows,  the gorgeous Eastern Shore of  Virginia’s  spring weather also brings the need to shed any excess  winter  pounds  as  the 2011 show season is just around the corner.  No more lazy short winter days  just lounging around in a warm blanket,  chatting with friends in the pasture  or cozy evenings playfully horsing around in the stables.   No,  now it’s time to work,  work, work to get his  boyish figure back.  Wiley is currently evaluating what meal plans and work-out routines he’ll use to get the most from his efforts and he  wishes there was a  TV  set up in the barn so that he and his buddies  could look at a  few  YouTube videos from leading health and fitness experts on  the most  up- to- date  methods of  slimming the flanks,  firming up  the withers,  toning neck muscles, etc.   Wiley knows that the time to get serious about fitness is upon him,  his first show appearance of the season is coming up in Raleigh, North Carolina  in just a few weeks.   Oh,  the price to be paid for being a beautiful horse !     ( P.S. If  you’re  thinking of a farm or farmette here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  equestrian or otherwise, please visit our website,  www.blueheronva.com , and click on the listings link– we currently have some outstanding  farm and farmette real estate opportunities.)

The On-going Saga Of Wiley, My Eastern Shore of Virginia Arabian Horse. Part 4

Monday, January 31st, 2011

It was a very happy holiday season for this Virginia's Eastern Shore horse.

I just can hardly believe that Wiley,  my beautiful Arabian horse,  first arrived on Virginia’s Eastern Shore one year ago last month,   my most unique Christmas gift  ever from my son !   As they say,  how time flies !   Wiley really, really  loves it here on the Shore,  romping around with all his new friends, soaking up the cool breezes off the water,  enjoying the Eastern Shore’s temperate climate,  munching the delicious pasture grasses, visiting friends on other farms because the Eastern Shore really is an equestrian paradise.   At Wiley’s cosy anniversary party,  the guest of honor calmly munched carrots and sugar cubes in his stall while my son and I  toasted his good health with some pretty nice champagne.   But truth be told,  Wiley’s first Christmas in his new home,  a brand-new and spacious barn on a large waterfront farm just south of  Cape Charles, Virginia,  was just about more than the poor little fellow  could handle.  Just trying to figure out which stall buddies to give apples and which stall buddies would prefer carrots was pretty taxing,  plus having to decide whether it was truly necessary to put a bow on them all.  And then having  to decorate his  stall because he didn’t want to seem like the barn Grinch !   Not to mention that the older horses were all  party, party, party  into the wee hours,  keeping Wiley and the other colts up half the night.  It was enough to give a young horse dark circles under the eyes.  Although he loved  all his Christmas gifts,  including a  new  halter and a beautiful new green plaid blanket,  soft and warm as a down comforter,  ( nicely gift-wrapped for him by  Dover Saddlery  www.doversaddlery.com ),   Wiley still insists that  it’s  lucky that Christmas comes only once a year !   He  thinks the craziest thing is that the barn is already looking forward to the Christmas holidays next year.   But I let him know not to worry,  come next December,  he and I will  face it together.  P.S. If you love horses and are thinking of a move to the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  please    call me at 757-678-5200  and I will e-mail you some data sheets on our great  “horse-friendly”  properties.

If You Want To Purchase A Boating Property But Love Horses, On The Eastern Shore Of Virginia You Can Have Both !

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

It seems like more and more,  we are getting  calls from people who are looking for boating real estate on Virginia’s Eastern Shore but who want a property where they can have both a boat dock  in their backyard and horses on the property  as well.   Now in most areas this simply is not possible.  But  on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  we have a number of opportunities  to buy properties where you can do just that.  I think one of the unique aspects of purchasing property here is that,  unlike so many other waterfront areas where the land has been chopped up into quarter acre lots, or even smaller in many cases,  on Virginia’s Eastern Shore,  many of the available waterfront parcels range from three to six acres in size,  and some are even larger.   These properties with acreage present the perfect scenario for having both a boat pier and a horse on the same property.

Take for example a ten acre parcel we have listed not far from Nassawadox, Virginia.  A  beautiful property,  it features wide water views and easy boating access to the Chesapeake Bay within 10-15 minutes of the property.  The best place to site  a custom home would be at the top of the knoll,  looking down towards the water.  This would offer terrific views and the access to a boat dock would be down a gently sloping path to the shoreline.   A pristine property,  this waterfront acreage is a perfect purchase for a boat lover .   And for a horse lover too  !

Partially wooded and partially open,  this parcel offers  easy conversion of the open area to  good horse pasture.  Fortunately, on this parcel,  as on most of the land in Northampton County,  the soils are excellent sandy loam soils which offer top notch  drainage — nobody wants their horse to have wet feet !   The property also has good depth which keeps the horses  away from the house and away from the water.  ( An important factor in helping maintain clean water would be  keeping  the nutrients from the horse patties from entering the water. )   Attractively priced at $399,000,   this property is ready for a beautiful custom home,  a backyard boat dock  and ,  if desired, offers room for a horse barn and pasture.  So if you want to purchase a boating property but you love horses too,  on Virginia’s Eastern Shore,  you won’t have to choose– you can have them both !   ( Take a peek at the  Farms and Farmettes   listing section on our web page,  www.blueheronva.com ,  to see other  real estate opportunities including beachfront properties where you can also have a horse. )

The Life Of Wiley, The On-Going Saga Of An Arabian Colt On Virginia’s Eastern Shore– Part 3

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Watching the Breeder’s Cup last week-end made me think about just how much animals are very much like humans in many respects. Some have the heart to win and give it their all to the very end.  Others are happy with making just enough effort to just get by.  Very much like our human race.   Now I’m not comparing my little grey Arabian gelding,  Wiley,  to the great race horse Zenyatta but I do see a similarity in the hearts of both animals.  Wiley was purchased last Christmas from a horse farm in Tennessee that was going through very hard times.  In distress situations like that,  owners usually do not have the funds to continue to feed their horses the grain and hay supplements they need.  Instead,  the horses are turned out to grass pastures  to live on the land so to speak.  So Wiley only got a minimal amount of care,  he and his buddies being left very much to fend for themselves.

Trot, Trot, Trot For The Judges

Then overnight this little fellow’s life completely changed.   Being  loaded onto a horse trailer for the first time is  pretty traumatic  for a colt like Wiley — first you’re out in a sunny, wide open pasture and the next thing you know someone is pulling you up into a small dark box,  no buddies,  no mother,  then the door is slammed shut,  leaving you totally alone and scared.   And the unfamiliar noises and motion,  thumping and bumping,  starting and stopping,   down hundreds of miles of highway to a  new home,  all that is  pretty traumatic for first-timers as well.   And once he got  to his new home  on a large waterfront farm owned by a friend who boards horses near Cape Charles, Virginia on Virginia’s Eastern Shore,   being in his own stall with a less than friendly mare as a next door neighbor wasn’t a picnic either.   No doubt he missed his old buddies down on the farm but there was a big  upside — good food and lots of love, care and attention.  After a couple of months  of  good food  and being turned out during the day to graze in the large green pasture,  things seemed pretty easy to Wiley.   His new  life produced weight gain and a beautiful healthy coat.  Still had to contend with the old mare next door at night but,  all in all,  life was definitely good.

Wiley Puts His Best Foot Forward

Little did Wiley realize that with the coming of spring came the beginning of the summer Show Circuit and that his relaxed, comfortable life was now about to change once again.   Loaded on a trailer for only the second life in his young life,  Wiley was off on another trip, this time to Wolf’s Training Center in Georgetown, Delaware  (www.wolftraining.com) .  Now it was time to leave the comfort and security of his new home,  now it was time to grow up and go to work.  Time to learn how to stand ( with his best foot forward),  to use  his neck and ears with positive attitude,  to learn to keep his undivided attention on his trainer and  to stand perfectly still to be judged in the ring without moving  a muscle.   These lessons aren’t the easiest to accomplish with any two year old and were  hardest of all for Wiley to achieve.   But when Wiley returned home to the Eastern Shore of Virginia after two months of intensive training,  all bathed and clipped,  sporting his brand new shoes,  he was no longer the little grey duckling  that left the farm  but rather a proud and beautiful Arabian swan !  Now Wiley can’t compare to a great race horse but he does have miles of heart.   Upon return,  the first thing he did when he saw me was to call out and nuzzle my neck to say it’s  OK,  I’m growing up,  I’m ready now for the show season.   Bring It On !

Shopping For Wiley– The On-going Saga Of An Eastern Shore Horse Part 2

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Harkening back to my July post on my overwhelming surprise at  receiving Wiley,  my Christmas gift horse….  It wasn’t just a huge surprise,  it was also a bit of a shock.   A little hard to take in,  some quick figuring was needed about what to do next.   Easy solution.   I always say,  when in doubt,  go shopping !   So that’s what I did.

A quick visit to Dover’s  website  ( www.doversaddlery.com  )  to look at the latest and greatest in equine  equipment and fashions was in order.  Wiley was in need of a lot of stuff  if  he was going to keep up  with his stall buddies. ( Wiley hangs out on a beautiful 400 acre waterfront farm near Cape Charles, Virginia and I didn’t want him to embarrassed in front of his new friends.)  A new rolled leather halter with a monogramed name plate seemed like a good start.  Of course, every self  respecting young colt has to have a cool coat for winter.   A  handsome  burgandy blanket piped with gray and a charcoal gray blanket to contrast with his light gray coat  seemed to be the perfect fashion statements  for stepping into the upcoming show season.  

Apparently  Wiley thought so too.  New halter,  new blanket — now he  held his head high when people passed  in front of his stall.   Not just some  horse turned out in a field,  Wiley’s demeanor changed.    No longer when you opened the stall  did  he  turn and face the corner.    No,  now he looked  directly at you and walked  forward to meet you,  ready to shake hoofs.    He was ready for some R-E-S-P-E-C-T  !        Women  have always known that a new outfit and a makeover  can make you  feel great but who knew  that it was the same for horses ?    Wildfire was  now on his way  and show season was just around the corner !   Next post —  Wiley’s first show.

Wiley, the Christmas Horse

Friday, July 16th, 2010

I thought that after thirty years of being asked by my only son  “So, what would you  like for Christmas this year ?”  or  “If I give you money would it be better if you chose your own Christmas present ?”   that something was really rather strange this past year.  In the weeks leading up to the big day,  not a word  did  he say,  not one question did he ask about my Christmas gift  preferences.   Knowing that he usually felt a lot of uncertainty when shopping for  my present  I  assumed that he had decided to skip the shopping part entirely and just slip money into a  Xmas stocking.   I should mention that I,  on the other hand,  love to shop for Christmas.   Trying to decide on a really meaningful  gift  for family and friends,  one I think they will truly enjoy,  is a passion with me.   Since Virginia’s Eastern Shore is home to so  many artists and artisans,  I always  scour the Shore for some interesting  art  type gifts before I shift into what I think of as “high gear”.   “High gear”  is my annual Christmas shopping pilgrimage with a friend or two, usually  to Washington DC, sometimes to New York.  One of the  things I  love about living on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is how easy it is to get to interesting  nearby  areas such as Williamsburg, Richmond, Washington ,  Annapolis,  Charlottesville, etc.,  as well as points north including Manhattan, Cape May, maybe even that den of iniquity, Atlantic City.    This past year we made the 4 hour drive  from the Eastern Shore to Washington,  laser focused on unearthing  some great deals over the next few days at  Tyson’s  Corner and  treating ourselves to lunch at Neiman Marcus.  Splurging  by staying at the Ritz , we parked  ourselves by the cozy fireplace in the evenings,  toasting  the season with hot toddys and cold  champagne.   So much fun, so little time and all  too soon we were on our way home. 

Still no  gift questions or comments from my son.  Then, on Christmas Eve, a  festive  dinner and presents after.   And  I must admit,  after  all of  the presents were opened and he  didn’t have a box or even an envelope  for me that I felt rather  disappointed.   About 11 pm he kissed me goodby, saying that he had to leave to meet some  friends.  No “sorry I couldn’t find anything I thought you would really like”,  no  “please use this to buy something nice”.   Just “Merry Christmas, Mom”.   At that point my first thought was that I should have had more than one child.  Although I am a firm believer that it is better to give than to receive,  truth be told, I was feeling rather disappointed.   Then, on Christmas morning  I received a call asking  if  we would possibly have the time after Christmas lunch to  join  him  at a friend’s  big waterfront horse farm south of  Cape Charles.  We  would and we  did.   And when I got there  he said  “Come look at this.”    We walked into the barn and there  in  a stall was a beautiful grey Arabian colt,  dressed  in a red halter with  a red Christmas bow in his mane.  After 20 years since I last had  a horse I was looking  into the eyes of  one of my  sweetest Christmas presents  ever… Wiley, my Christmas horse.