The Middleburg Barn®, is our version of rustic luxury at its finest! We host many events at the farm, including weddings, corporate events, horse shows, riding clinics, celebrations of life, fundraisers, birthdays, etc.
Read more about us and the history of this remarkable farm below!
Our landmark farm located on the main road to Middleburg has certainly introduced many to the rich horse history of the area but also to the stunning countryside and to the little historic town of Middleburg, Virginia.
The Middleburg Barn has seen many people and horses pass through the gates over the years to attend parties, weddings, summer camps, corporate events, and attend horse shows, etc. Horses are a big deal in this area, so big that a lot of horses from the American Civil War were purchased from this area and even Traveller, General Robert E. Lee's most famous horse during War, was purchased less than a mile from this farm!
The recorded history of the farm dates back to 1876, when it began a long and illustrious trajectory from being a well-known thoroughbred breeding farm, to a training farm, to riding lessons, horse shows and events facility.
One of the most memorable was when it was Colony Farm owned by a young, self-taught genius, from Brooklyn New York, named Benny O’Meara, brother of Jane O’Meara Sanders, wife of the presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Benny acquired the property after discovering this incredible farm in the early 1960s. Benny quickly rose to the status of icon in the equestrian community. We've heard some great stories of his training techniques and how he had some uncanny ability to spot a champion horse, just by seeing the equine simply grazing in a field as he drove by! He had some sort of sixth sense or gift and knew horses so well. During his short but meteoric career as a show rider and trainer (he was tragically killed in a plane crash at the age of 27 in April 1966) he trained horses that went on to compete in the Olympics and win numerous and notable championships. The family were obviously devastated by the loss, as well as many of the area's horseman. Many international riders still talk about how Benny was one-of-a kind person, rider and trainer.
The family were not as gifted with horses, but did their best to run Colony Farm hosting horse shows, etc. until early 1970s, when they pooled together a group of investors to save the farm. Among them, Canadian trainer, Lucien Laurin, who trained the Triple Crown Winner Secretariat, former NFL Quarterback for the Redskins, Billy Kilmer, and trainer Stanley T. Greene, and the farm became a breeding facility called, The Virginia Stallion Station. Of the 60 horses that at one time resided in the barn, one of the most notable was Spanish Riddle, a remarkable thoroughbred stallion who continued to live a long and fruitful life post a career-ending accident with the help of an artificial leg and hoof. Spanish Riddle sired many including, Love Sign. Bred in 1969 by Roy Anderson in Kentucky, Spanish Riddle, the chestnut son of Ridan & Windy City mare Spanish Breeze. He won three times as any other 2-year-old in 1971. The colt was well on his way to be a top racer.... and then tragedy hit. Two days shy of a year of setting records, Spanish Riddle, in 1973, during a workout on the sloppy main track at Saratoga, the he suffered a horrible accident and broke bones and torn ligaments, which typically results in euthanasia of equines.
His racing career was over, but a breeding stallion at The Virginia Stallion Station in Middleburg, VA was the plan for Spanish Riddle's future. Steve Jordan became his groom. Lucian Laurin looked at Jordan and asked, “You’re with this horse every day, do you think he'll make it?” Jordan replied, “If any horse can make it this horse can make it.” Dr. Edward Keefer was called in and Spanish Riddle endured the four-hour procedure to remove his leg an attach a prosthetic leg and hoof. Keefer and Jordan would remove the brace, clean the wound and re-attach the brace. Jordan appeased Spanish Riddle with a bag of carrots a day, took advice from Keefer and tried to make the horse comfortable. After some time recovering, Spanish Riddle was shipped to this farm with the rest of the Laurin horses. By early 1974, Spanish Riddle had learned to live with his artificial leg and hoof, and did well at his new home here until his death many years later due to natural causes. The celebrated stallion is buried at this farm. Jordan is proud of his role in Spanish Riddle’s life, and Thoroughbred history. (Pictured is Steve Jordan and wife when they came to visit the farm in 2017)
After much work, Spanish Riddle was the first horse to survive broken bones, torn ligaments and an amputation to become a breeding stallion, a veterinary pioneer and a model of how the spirit can sometimes overcome circumstance.
The celebrated stallion lived a long and wonderful life at the farm, and is buried here.
For almost 24 years, the current owners, the Hanley family, led by Maureen Hanley, a horse enthusiast and former NPR producer, set in motion renovations from years of neglect to barns, cottages and land. She kick started the business by hosting award winning horse shows for Jumpers and Hunter riders, and hosting clinics by internationally known horse professionals and Olympians like Kathy Kusner and Joe Fargis, summer camps, weddings, corporate events, and even getting the farm featured in a few TV shows. During one of the renovations of the old air plane hanger that Benny O'Meara housed his planes, and later was used as stalls, where Spanish Riddle used to live, Maureen envisioned a new use of the dilapidated barn, and designed and built the replacement barn where events are held year 'round in the gorgeous southern yellow pine post and beam barn, creating lifetime memories for many who come to visit the farm. The Middleburg Barn® is a very special place owned by people who want to see the best for the farm and want to share in its beauty for many years to come! (photos of Maureen Hanley riding with friends Robert Duvall, James Caan and his wife, and Doreen Hanley and her children)
Tours are by appointment only and can be arranged by filling out the form found on the contact us page. Click the button below to get started.