Driving Club
Est. 1972


Who We Are
The Piedmont Driving Club was established in 1972 and is the oldest carriage driving club in Northern Virginia. The Club is governed by an elected Board, adheres to a set of by-laws, and carries insurance for all of its activities. Membership is open not only to persons who actively drive carriages, but also to any person who might want to serve as a groom, become involved in carriage restoration, photography of turn-outs, or who might want to assist the Club by providing driving venues, hosting picnics, or helping with other activities in which the Club engages.
What We Do
In recent years, the Club has focused primarily on “picnic” drives, meaning that we gather at specific venues and drive a course which has been marked, or for which a map has been prepared. Afterwards, participants partake of a traditional picnic. Distances vary from 3-4 miles up to 10 miles, depending upon the time of year and the terrain. Some drives are “head to tail”, requiring equines that can go quietly in company and are comfortable with carriages in front and behind. Other drives are “go as you please”, where the person driving (hereinafter called a “whip”) can choose their own distance and pace. The Club seeks to accommodate “green” equines, (those in training) as well as to refine the skills of the more experienced whips and equines. The Club is proud to have among its members several persons of national prominence (including a certified Coaching Judge and a Virginia State Representative of the Carriage Association of America), as well as persons who have achieved significant success in Combined Driving Events and other carriage competitions. The Club is fortunate to include some members who train carriage horses and teach driving. Other members have made noteworthy contributions to the world of equine art and literature. But mostly we’re “just folks” and whether or not we are new to the sport, we share the joy and passion of driving and all that it has to offer. Each member is valued for his/her unique and individual contributions.
What types of equines do Members drive?
With safety the foremost consideration, the Club welcomes ALL types of equines and ALL types of turn-outs. A typical picnic drive might bring out teams (four-in-hand) of horses, pairs of horses and ponies, single horses and ponies, and any number or configuration of VSE’s (“minis!”). There have been many breeds represented at Club drives, including Friesians, Connemaras, Dartmoor, Gotland and Shetland ponies, Haflingers, Morgans, Welsh Cobs, Hackney horses, Hackney ponies, Quarter Horses, grade horses and ponies, Draft horses, Crossbred horses, and yes, Thoroughbreds. A few years ago one member brought a well matched pair of mules to picnic drives. Vehicles range from the very fancy to the very practical and everything in between. Again, the emphasis is on turning out in a manner which is SAFE, suitable to the terrain, traditional and attractive. Members justifiably take great pride in the appearance of their vehicles, equines and themselves. All strive to match an “ideal” picture.
Where does the Club Meet?
During the driving season, the Club mets at venues in Fauquier, Loudoun, Stafford, Clark and Warren Counties. Frequently we were guests of generous land owners who provided access over farm roads and through handsome estates. Just as often we drove the gravel roads and quiet paved roads adjacent to these beautiful properties. We also drove along the Shenandoah when the bluebells were blooming, through the villages of Unison, Orlean and The Plains, to several wineries and through public areas such as Long Branch. This year the Club has been invited to drive at even more venues and, while the weather doesn’t always cooperate with such ambitious plans, we look forward to a full and varied driving season.
So….what exactly is a “Picnic Drive”?
After “safety”, comes “scenery”. The Piedmont Driving Club believes that it has been privileged to trot over some of the BEST driving venues in the USA. And, after a brisk and beautiful outing in a fine carriage pulled by fit and eager equines, what could be better than to gather together for a picnic? Could it be that the Piedmont Driving Club members are among the best cooks in the world? Well, if not, they certainly ARE a group that knows how to pack-in a party. Once the equines have been unhitched, un-harnessed, settled back into their trailers and carriages are loaded, out come the tables, chairs, and picnic baskets. Suddenly, where once there was a quiet field beside a shaded stream, there appears a banquet! The Club members feel strongly that this is not only a time to relax and discuss the drive from which they have just returned, it is also an opportunity to provide hospitality to the land owners, farm managers, guests and helpers who have made the drive possible. What better way to do this than to prepare a feast!
What is a “refresment stop…and why have one?”
Another tradition evolved during past driving seasons. Club members have found it useful to have a “refreshment stop” midway through a picnic drive. Yes, “refreshments” -- often the bubbly kind, along with tasty nibbles like cucumber sandwiches or cheese straws -- are usually brought by a volunteer host and served to each person in every carriage, but there is another MORE IMPORTANT purpose to the stop. The equines need to be “refreshed”. They deserve a rest and a chance to gather with each other, see the other turn-outs and become comfortable standing in a group. Each equine is checked over, with special emphasis on recovery times for respiration and heart rates. Harness is also re-checked to ensure that everything is properly attached and nothing has come loose. These stops have proved a valuable aide in ensuring everyone’s safety and comfort and in allowing the horses to adjust to driving in company.
What else does the Club do?
While picnic drives currently occupy most of the Club’s calendar, the many and varied interests of members have been well represented in other activities such as visits to carriage collections, trips to carriage and equipment auctions, and even a shopping trip to a local hat shop. Members volunteer each year to work at the driving competitions hosted by the Upperville Colt and Horse Show where, the Club is proud to report, the Concourse d’Elegance has consistently been won by members of the PDC. Many of the volunteers for the prestigious National Sporting Library Coaching Weekend (held in 2004, 2007, and 2011) were selected from the PDC membership rosters. From time to time, the Club will host speakers on matters of interest such as carriage maintenance, proper turn-out, shoeing options for the carriage horse, showing in harness, and safety clinics. Many members of the PDC also belong to the Carriage Association of America (CAA) and the American Driving Society (ADS). In August of this year, many members of the Piedmont Driving Club brought their turn-outs to Fair Hill, Maryland to attend the Mid-Atlantic Pleasure Driving Weekend hosted by the ADS. This marked the first time the Club met and drove out of state. The driving venues at Fair Hill are exceptional and there is a lot of enthusiasm among Club members for a return trip this fall!
Interested in leading or particapating in a carriage drive?
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