Remembering Fauquier’s Equestrian History
The recent Virginia Gold Cup put us in mind of Fauquier County’s rich equestrian history. Horses show up in numerous histories of Fauquier, but none more so than in the writings of M. Louise Evans.
Evans (1887-1966) moved from North Carolina to Warrenton, VA in 1904 and by the following year had secured a job with the Fauquier Democrat (now the Fauquier Times) where she wrote articles of local interest. In 1915, she became the newspaper’s local editor and business manager. She also eventually served as Warrenton’s correspondent to the Associated Press and worked for the Virginia Gold Cup Office.
By the 1940s and 50s, the “Old Timer” as Evans was then known often regaled readers with reminiscences of bygone equestrian events and significant milestones, most of which took place in Warrenton. These are just a few anecdotes pulled from her book An Old Timer in Warrenton and Fauquier County:
- In the early 1900s, the opening day of Warrenton’s March Court included a ‘parade of stallions’ along Main Street after which the horses were sold or traded.
- At the turn of the 20th century, the Warrenton Horse Show drew large crowds who arrived by horse-drawn wagon, cart, and coach. Dances held at the show were the highlight of the summer social calendar.
- Fauquier’s first steeplechase was organized at the White Sulphur Springs in 1844.
- Polo is thought to have first been played in the county in 1895. The Fauquier-Loudoun Polo Club was founded in 1920 and a ladies’ team was organized around 1957.
- The Warrenton Pony Show, the oldest pony show in America, was established at Neptune Lodge around 1918 by Warrenton children.
- The Warrenton Hunt, organized in 1887, is one of Virginia’s oldest hunt clubs.
- A hunt was staged at Warrenton’s ‘Oakwood’ estate in 1941 for the visiting Duke and Duchess of Windsor (also known as the former King Edward VIII and his wife Wallis Simpson).
To find out even more about local horse history read:
A Community of the Horse, Partnerships by Bruce Smart
Famous Horsewomen of Virginia by Francis Bush
The History and Origins of the Virginia Gold Cup by William Myzk
Northern Virginia’s Equestrian Heritage by Mary L. Fishback
∼ Frances Allshouse, Adult Reference Librarian, Warrenton central library