Saddle up at a Horse Country Spa ​

Writer Bernard Burt | July 18, 2014

Nestled within the historic village of Middleburg in Virginia, USA, Salamander Resort & Spa is more than a peaceful destination resort. Part spa and part equestrian centre, this is the perfect place to experience what both worlds can offer together and reconnect with the land, nature, history and yourself.

Having communicated with horses at the Miraval resort in Arizona, I discovered a new world of equestrian adventure at the Salamander Resort & Spa in Virginia. Since my experience on horseback is limited, I am curious to see how the spa and equestrian centre enhance each other, and to enjoy the farm-fresh food and wine.

Just being here has a calming effect. Getting out of Washington, DC to horse country is an easy hour’s drive, and even less if you arrive at Washington’s Dulles International Airport and pre-arrange to be met by a chauffer-driven private car.

The historic, one-stop-light village of Middleburg, Virginia, welcomes me to another century. With ancient stone buildings tucked into rolling hills and meadows, Middleburg is the heart of Virginia horse country. There are no chain stores, no Starbucks; life revolves around horses.

Across lush green fields, I can visualise Jacqueline Kennedy riding with the Middleburg Hunt, dressed in traditional red coat and black velvet cap. On the main street, Elizabeth Taylor and her husband US Senator John Warner were often spotted in the Tap Room at the Red Fox Inn, once a stagecoach stop on the road to the western border of Virginia.

Little has changed in town. On the main drag, appropriately named Washington Street, several blocks of boutiques and art galleries cater to well-heeled tourists. But when television channel co-owner Sheila C Johnson acquired a farm near the town centre, the concept for Salamander Resort & Spa was born.

The relationships between horses, humans and nature can equip riders with life-changing leadership skills