Middleburg is the heart of to the Virginia’s bucolic horse country. It is also one of the loveliest and rarified places in which to take in the activities and lifestyle of the moneyed and horse set.
Indeed, it is pretty much what one would expect of an exclusive equestrian hamlet. The beautiful, rolling green hills, dotted with heart-stopping estates and crisscrossed by white fencing, easily evokes visions of Ralph Lauren ads. Truth be told, some were undoubtedly shot here.
There’s a time and a place for visiting truly exceptional environments, and for us it was the Goodstone Inn, a wonderful and unique country estate. I say “estate” because that’s really what it is. Set on 265 acres, the Inn is an award winning collection of residences, barns, and stables spread across the expansive and picturesque property. The event was a last weekend away before the birth of our son – a babymoon, if you will.
There are actually five buildings in which to stay, each with its own distinct theme. The original carriage house serves as the Inn’s living room and also houses their exceptional restaurant. We opted for the stately Manor House. The overall experience was a bit like being in a BBC show about people staying out in the country with their incredibly wealthy landowning friends.
For us, it was a wonderful time; relaxing, genteel even. We chose to step away from busy lives for a couple of days and focus on the fact that shortly, those lives would be changing forever. To this day, it is a cherished memory and touchstone for reminding us about the evolution of our relationship.
Visiting horse country often inspires one to dream of misty morning walks to the stable and a rambling family house stocked with giant oil paintings, antiques, and sterling silver knick knacks. It can also lead to the desire to ditch your current wardrobe for something more earthy – heavy on the leather and waxed cotton.
Dressing for this kind of an environment is a balancing act because good horse country style is really a blend of bespoke and stable boy. One of the most imaginative suggestions for getting the right mix came from a local: think of Prince Charles, and then put him in a pair of plain old, beat-up jeans.
Most of the Middleburg horsey set is very well off – horses are not really a poor man’s accessory – but they also revel in their earthy, down home English/American lifestyle.
Many of the folks you’ll come across have on clothing that looks great, but not necessarily new. They often looked as though their clothing was tossed on without thinking, but from a wardrobe that has only great clothes in it. This observation confirms long held belief that we all need a good hacking jacket in the closet.