Drive through rural Loudoun and in between all the vineyards, farm breweries and historic villages you will see paddocks and fields dotted with handsome four-legged creatures. Loudoun is horse country, and Middleburg is known as the nation’s horse and hunt country capital. Both the historic town and the rest of the county have a long and storied equestrian history dating back to before the Revolution.
May is Virginia Horse Month and in celebration of Loudoun’s equestrian culture, we highlight some of the events, pursuits and facilities that define the style and wonder of horse country.
Hunt Country Music Festival, May 20-22
May 20-22 is the inaugural Hunt Country Music Festival in Middleburg and neighboring Upperville. Produced by The Middleburg Concert Series, the three-day festival features an eclectic mix of live classical chamber and orchestral music as well as Argentinian tango and 1940s big band tunes.
Loudoun Spring Farm Tour, May 21 -May 22
The annual Loudoun Spring Farm Tour, going strong since 1996, takes place in late May. Organized by Loudoun Economic Development, the free family-friendly, self-guided tours allow residents and tourists to visit with and learn from local farmers raising everything from cattle, pigs and sheep to growing vegetables, fruit and flowers. Horse businesses on the tour include the Equine Rescue League in Lovettsville, dedicated to the responsible use of working horses, donkeys and mules.
National Sporting Library & Museum, Open Late Concert Series
Middleburg’s National Sporting Library & Museum, the nation’s leading resource on the literature, art and culture of equestrian and outdoor pursuits, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Explore the library and adjacent art gallery at any time, but on the last Friday of each month between May and September, the museum hosts the Open Late Concert Series, a free live music series on the lawn of the property. Friday May 27 is Equestrian Night, featuring the foot stomping blues band Fast Eddie & the Slowpokes.
Morven Park International Equestrian Center, Polo in the Park
Morven Park’s annual Polo in the Park season gets underway June 18 with the prestigious Ambassador’s Cup. Put on your best dress and coolest hat for the Snazzy Hat and Dapper Dresser Award and enjoy tailgating or picnicking on the grass with a fine glass of Loudoun wine as you cheer on some of the finest polo players in the world.
Chase Run Stable on the edge of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Hamilton leases horses and offers group and private riding lessons. Book well in advance to ensure you get a ride but once saddled up, you are right on a shaded and quiet section of the W&OD. After your ride, head over to neighboring Firefly Cellars for a glass of the superb Illumination white blend.
At Dry Mill Vineyard & Winery just outside Leesburg you can sample wine in a barn that was once home to the horses and hounds of the Loudoun Hunt Club. The winery’s aptly named Sweet Stallion is a highly drinkable red blend - “not too dry, not too sweet, just right.”
The sumptuous Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg has an equestrian center, riding trails, equine themed art and an adorable miniature pony, Cupcake, who loves meeting guests. At nearby Welbourne Inn, a historic B&B and horse farm, guests can visit with horses that have been sent to the estate to retire.