Classic Carriages In The Berkshires. November 2, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, poetry.
Tags: Colonial Carriage and Driving Society, Horse-Drawn Carriages, Orleton Farm, Stockbridge MA, the Berkshires
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending an event put on by the Colonial Carriage and Driving Society, a collective of folks who practice the fine but fading art of driving horse-drawn carriages.
It turns out that this is a time-honored tradition here in The Berkshires. Back in the nineteenth century, when the well-monied elite had beach-side properties in Newport, RI, The Berkshires became known as “The Inland Newport.” And why not? It’s an area of great natural beauty tempered with a pastoral placidity, with miles and miles of shaded country lanes. They’re a good deal hillier than many of the Southern haunts of horse-lovers, but then, meeting that challenge is a badge of honor among Coachers.
So vacation cottages sprung up, many in the towns of Stockbridge and Lenox (think names like Carnegie, Westinghouse and Vanderbilt.) You might not call these impressive edifices “cottages” if you saw them; they look more like mansions to me, but hey, I’m financially challenged.
Anyway, back to the present:
This event was held at Orleton Farm in Stockbridge. Our hosts were Harvey and Mary Waller, who are principals in the Colonial Carriage endeavor. They were most gracious to Susan and me, total strangers in this environment.
The Wallers have a stable of about forty carriages, not buckboards mind you, but rather splendid rigs with history, which aren’t just conserved as in a museum, but restored and used. Perhaps their most well known carriage is Old Times, which didn’t come out this day, but I got a shot of its backside in their museum:
While many Colonial Carriage events are formal, with rather strict guidelines for the wearing of period clothing and such, this was a more casual affair with participants and spectators alike clad in whatever was comfortable for the weather:
This pair of ladies had no intention of freezing on this dark and blustery Autumn day.
The Wallers’ contribution to the event consisted of tons of tack:
…four beautifully matched German Warmbloods:
…and a carriage filled with enthusiastic participants, the entirety of which approached a weight of five tons, which is quite a lot to haul through the Berkshire Hills:
This was a magnificent sight, infused with the power of four-in-hand horses and, simultaneously, the simple elegance of a bygone day.
I’m looking forward to seeing more of this in the future, and in particular their Winter Classic Sleigh Rally.
Thanks to the Wallers and the Colonial Carriage and Driving Society for this beautiful day in the Berkshires.