The award was presented at the Virginia Horse Council’s annual meeting and luncheon during the Virginia Horse Festival in Doswell, Va., on April 2.
“The Virginia Horse Council received nominations throughout Virginia and FCEC is honored to have received this award,” said FCEC Founder and President Patricia Wray. “FCEC is proud to be a part of the Virginia Horse Industry and the Virginia Horse Council. Not only is it a great honor for our club and its members, but it’s a great honor for our county. Without the dedication of its members and the support of our local businesses and community, this would not have been possible.”
The club, which is open to all riders and disciplines, hosts many horse shows and activities throughout the year and has more than 100 members. On April 30, the club will holdits Spring Fling Horse Show (re-scheduled from April 9). Jeff Cox is the judge for the open show that includes classes for Hunter, Western, Games and Gaited horses. It will be held at the Ginther Farm (3128 Sontag Road, Rocky Mount) in Rocky Mount, Va., and begins at 9 a.m.
The club, which is going on its sixth year, also has scheduled in 2016 a Turn and Burn Series, a competitive trail ride at Fairy Stone Park in July, an annual open horse show in August and the Franklin County Fair Horse Show in September plus much more.They also sanction other shows such as the Cross View Show Series at Green Hill Park near Salem.
While for now the club uses Ginther Farm and other venues for its events, the club has been working to develop an arena in Franklin County. Earlier this year, the Franklin County Board of Supervisors voted to contribute up to $5,000 toward the club’s efforts to build a new arena on county-owned property along Sontag Road in Rocky Mount. That money is expected to pay for an application for a commercial driveway permit as required by the Virginia Department of Transportation and determining whether a turn lane should be installed based on traffic patterns in the area. The club said it will pay for the construction of the arena on the property.
The second annual Virginia Horse Festival is being held April 1-3 near Richmond, Virginia, at The Meadow Event Park in Doswell, and this year the festival will welcome a equine guest with a special tie to the park.
Groundshaker, a great-great-granddaughter of the legendary Secretariat, will be on hand for a special birthday celebration for the Triple Crown winner, who was born at The Meadow Event Park in 1970. Efforts are underway to eventually welcome Groundshaker as a permanent resident at The Meadow.
Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s owner and daughter of Meadow Stable’s founder Christopher T. Chenery, said it was only fitting for Groundshaker to play this role in the ongoing preservation of The Meadow’s heritage.
“Groundshaker needed a new job and a new home,” said Chenery. “She is the last horse I
bred and raced, so her stay at The Meadow will bring our story full circle. As we mark the 80th anniversary of my father’s founding of Meadow Stable in 1936, Groundshaker will be a living, breathing, beautiful thread to that treasured past.”
Her link to Secretariat comes through her dam, Cotton Anne, who is a granddaughter of Terlingua, one of Secretariat’s best daughters and the dam of Storm Cat. Groundshaker is 5 years old.
The Secretariat birthday celebration will include autograph signings with Secretariat’s biographer, Bill Nack; Otto Thorwarth, who portrayed Secretariat’s jockey Ron Turcotte in the Disney movie; former exercise rider Charlie Davis; and Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery, who owned Secretariat. There also will be narrated tram tours of the farm, a “Paddock Party” to welcome Groundshaker and a “Memories of The Meadow” anniversary party with the Secretariat team.
The paddock party and Meadow anniversary event require separate tickets, which can be purchased on the horse festival website until 11:59 p.m. March 27.
The Meadow will soon launch a fundraising campaign to build a functional barn and pasture fencing for Groundshaker, and to eventually restore the 1930s-era Meadow Stable barns listed on the state and national historic registers.
Other notable events during the horse festival include a Colt Starting Challenge, during which eight trainers will gentle and ride a previously unridden horse. As they work with the horses Friday and Saturday, they will explain to audiences how they are gentling the colts. On Saturday night during the finale, the trainers and horses will navigate a judged obstacle course to determine the winner.
The festival will also include the Southern States Parade of Breeds, which highlights different breeds of horses, including draft horses, mules, Paint horses, Paso Finos, Rocky Mountain horses, Tennessee Walkers and Thoroughbreds. The parade will be held Friday night.
The festival features more than 100 clinics, demonstrations and seminars, and over 60 retail vendors offering shopping and food.
Festival hours are 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, Va., is the birthplace of Secretariat and home to the State Fair of Virginia. The Meadow is owned by Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, which is committed to preserving Virginia’s rich agricultural heritage and ensuring that the property thrives as a regional event and equine venue.