Categories: Victorian

by Jeanne Gehret


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The annual Walnut Hill FarDSCN0893m Driving Competition (permanently ended now) that took place early this month in nearby Pittsford, New York offered an idyllic glimpse into the horsey set of the 1890s, an era when Anna Osborn Anthony could well have been driving her horse. Her sister-in-law Susan made reference to Anna’s custom of driving her stallion on fine days even when Anna was pregnant with her first child.

As the Walnut Hill brochure states,

“. . . The Horse and Carriage reflected the quality of life and influenced the pace and scope of occupational and social activities. It was a time when the Horse and Carriage were elevated from a simple means of personal conveyance to a portrait of their owner. . . .”

At the competition, we saw a wide variety of both horses and conveyances. A team of huge black Freesians drew a four-in-hand carriage. A pony pulled a wicker phaeton, a picturesque carriage  characterized by the graceful arch in its floor, much like the sole in a woman’s high heel. While waiting to go into the ring, drivers exercised their horses in a parkland setting. I captured these drivers putting their horses through their paces and resting them in the shade before entering the competition.

Horses were very important to the Kansas Anthonys. D.R. made no secret that he stole several to get his horse farm underway, which eventually became quite a large establishment in Huron, Kansas. One of the Anthony granddaughters is pictured astride on the lawn on their home on the Esplanade overlooking the Missouri River in Leavenworth. And Merritt Anthony died of a massive heart attack while moving a wagon without benefit of his horse.

More pictures from Walnut Hill next time.

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