The First Published Account

The first published account of an Upperville Union Club show appeared in 1857 in The Southern Planter. The article reported that the horse show included three divisions - Riding Stock, Quick Draft and Heavy Draft - listing classes in each for yearlings, two-year-olds, and three-year-olds. Also given were the names of the 14 judges who selected the winners.

Stock by Messenger, a stud belonging to Welby Carter, seemed to have the edge over the other entries, with his get taking four first place prizes, split equally between Riding Stock and Quick Drafts. In Heavy Drafts, the judges awarded no premiums, "the colts not being entitled to any."

In support of the Upperville Show the magazine stated: We have several times urged the farmers of Virginia to form just such a club (Upperville Union Club) for the improvement of their various breeds of horses; but so far as we know, this is the first successful attempt of the kind. The object, which the title of this Association sufficiently expresses, is a very laudable one; and no locality offers a fairer field for its accomplishment than the Counties of Fauquier and Loudoun. They already have fine stock there; taken as a whole perhaps the best in the state, and better than can be found anywhere else, except Kentucky. But it may be improved.

The horse show's founder was not only concerned for the better care of young horses; he also worried about the neglect of mares in foal and a lack of interest in improving the breeds of Quick Drafts used for riding and driving, and Heavy Drafts that worked the plantations and smaller farms. With the thought that a fine stallion, offered at free stud, might help to alleviate the situation, in 1856 he imported Black Hawk, a prize-winning stallion at New England state fairs, to stand at Welbourne. The descendant of Justin Morgan was acquired following the Vermont State Fair attended by Mr. Dulany and his friend Robert Carter.

Also that same year the wealthy and public-spirited Dulany brought in to his Welbourne plantation a four-year-old Cleveland bay called Scrivington, a former blue ribbon winner at the Royal Agricultural Show in England. This sire was advertised in The Southern Planter for the breeding season of 1857, with the information that he also had taken prizes at both of the recent Maryland and Virginia state fairs.

Scrivington was still performing stud duties at Welbourne at the outbreak of the Civil War, and Rozier Dulany recalled that he escaped Yankee annexation by being quickly sent off to Pennsylvania in the custody of Welbourne's Negro stud groom, Garner Peters. The loyal lackey kept him in the North during the entire period of the war, making Scrivington's way and his own by breeding him to mares of the Pennsylvania section. After Appomattox, the pair returned to the still green, if less lush, pastures of post-bellum Welbourne where the stalwart Cleveland Bay lived out his life.

Both Black Hawk and Scrivington early proved to be successful sires in Virginia; the published report of the 1859 Upperville Union Club Colt Show (Colt had by now been inserted in the title) listed a predominance of their Quick Draft and Heavy Draft get as winners. Black Hawk was said to be "the getter of more fine colts than any other on exhibition."

The Southern Planter predicted in the August, 1859 edition: "The influence of this Club will be impressed upon the character of the horse throughout the state, and these shows will become marts for the sale of fine horses. There were upwards of 80 entries, and the club, on this occasion (June 16, 1859) distributed about $500 in premiums besides the beautifully-wrought silver cups.

The success of this enterprise will, I hope, induce the formation of similar clubs throughout the state, under the influence of which Virginia will become famous for her fine horses."

During the period of the Civil War the Upperville Union Colt Club was understandably inactive. Its president heeded the call to the colors of the Confederate Army and was commissioned as a Captain, Laurel Brigade, 7th Virginia Cavalry. Soon after he won his promotion to Colonel he was badly wounded, eventually returning to Welbourne with a badly crippled arm. Nevertheless, he did not allow this handicap, nor the marked depletion of his fortunes during the War to daunt his energies or spirit.

As soon as feasible after the Civil War, the Colt Club was reactivated, but when reorganized in 1869, Union, with its highly unpopular connotation, was to be forever deleted from the title of the Southerner's organization.

June shows, with broadened scope, are known to have taken place annually, in the Number Six oak grove in the summers following 1869, but any prize lists or other records are unknown - it is possible that they may have been kept at the Grafton house and destroyed when this Dulany home burned to the ground.

However, when the Upperville Colt Club was formally reorganized in 1894, a detailed charter was filed as follows:

"The undersigned R.H. Dulany, Willie Fletcher, P.S. Gochnauer, Henry Simpers, H.C. Norris, George H. Ayre, Joshua Fletcher, George Frasier, N.L. Turner, W.H. Carter, James H. Skinner, and R. Hunter Dulany, do by these presents hereby declare that it is their purpose to form a corporation to be known by the name and style of the Upperville Colt Club, which has for its object the thorough development of horses and colts, the formation of the pursuit of raising high grade horses and establishing a better market for same, and Annual Shows and Exhibitions testing the speed, gaits, and jumping powers of the various breeds or classes of horses."

By 1902 the organization had become the Upperville Colt and Horse Club...which sponsored a two-day show, held on June 11th and 12th. As per the official program and catalogue of entries, pony classes were included, as were also High Steppers in Harness, Sporting Tandems, Four-In-Hands, and classes for Park and Gaited Saddle Horses.

Hunters were divided into sections for Green Hunters (limited to three-year-olds); Four-Year-Old Hunters (more experienced); Lightweight and Heavyweight Hunters; and Open to All Hunters, which were required to jump obstacles of 4-1/2 to 5 feet.

Among the 23 entries in Lightweight Hunters was R. Hunter Delany's gray mare Kathleen, which was to be the dam of Silver Crest, the most successful show horse of his day. Shown nationally by Freddie McElhone - son-in-law of Dick Dulany and the husband of his first daughter Rebecca "Cuppy" - Silver Crest was a hunter champion many times over, winning not only the tri-color at Upperville in 1920 and other years, but also taking championships at the National Horse Show in New York, Bryn Mawr, and other noted shows when ridden by Becky Lanier (Sharp) (Mrs. David B. Sharp). Silver Crest was foaled in the oak grove at the Upperville show grounds, and was buried there, with a post-and-rail enclosure marking the spot.

In 1902 thoroughbred breeding classes made their appearance on the show program, along with Heavy Drafts and Quick Drafts there were classes for Thoroughbred Brood Mares and Foals, Yearlings, Two-Year-Olds, and Three-Year-Olds.

The High Jump was a feature of Upperville shows at the turn of the century, and the 1902 program listed it Open to All, Catch Weights, Over One Jump 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 feet. There were seven entries, and Courtland H. Smith and Louie Leith, prominent Virginia horseman, were among the owners competing. Later the High Jump was discontinued and not again included until 1958. In the year of its renewal it made headlines when a new women's world record of 7 feet, 2-1/2 inches was set by an eighteen-year-old Virginia girl named Kathy Kusner on an old gray mare called Freckles. This was Kathy's initial acclaim as an outstanding rider, but here she was quickly spotted as likely material for the United States Equestrian Team, of which she became a regular member.

A few years later Upperville began expanding its orbit and became a five-day exhibition with a bulging entry list of the finest show in America.

Grafton Farm, formerly called Number Six of the properties of the founder of the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, is where it all started back in 1853. And the towering oaks today are the same trees that stood and watched so long ago.


Everything at Upperville is really top level...and it keeps evolving with the sport, which is really remarkable for a show with such a long tradition.
— Kim Prince, Kim Prince, LLC