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Style · March 12, 2014

Faces of Fauquier: Horses “retire” to work with her

Photo/Cassandra Brown
“You communicate with horses through body and balance,” says Jeanne Blackwell, here with Cheesecake.
I have traveled and worked with horses all over the country. I love the pastures here. The horses can really graze freely and live like horses. Aesthetically, the county is beautiful. I love the balanced sense of community and commerce here.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
She gives horses and people new opportunities at MadCap Farm, just west of The Plains.

Teaching sidesaddle, polo, beginner and advanced riding lessons, Jeanne Blackwell develops individualized programs to meet a person’s goals.

“You communicate with horses through body and balance,” Ms. Blackwell explains. “People find it a unique experience that enriches them and gives them a source of accomplishment. Seeing a person’s expression and excitement when they first trot is amazing. I think it helps get them through the week.”

Most of her horses had careers in shows or polo before coming to her farm for new lives.

“The horses like it, too. It gives them a sense of purpose,” she said of the work.

Since age 14, she has been passionate about teaching people to ride.

“It’s a real thrill to share your knowledge with someone who has never ridden a horse before and see them appreciate the horses as much as you do.”

• Age
55

• Home
The Plains

• Work
She has trained horses and given riding lessons at her MadCap Farm since 1981. Her lessons include sidesaddle, beginner and advanced riding and polo.
She also operates the Trouvails Vintage Collection, a vintage clothing shop, from her home. MadCap operated a therapeutic riding program from 1991 to 2003.

• Why you do the job?
I really love the animals. Horses are majestic beings. It’s a real thrill to share your knowledge with someone who has never ridden a horse before and see them appreciate the horses as much as you do.

I’ve been riding horses since I was 6 years old and I started teaching people how to ride when I was 14. Now, I have a curriculum and I’m more involved with the training. People learn how to walk, trot and canter by their second lesson here.

• Family
Parents, Bob and Mary Ann Blackwell, who live in Florida.

• Education
Several classes at Lord Fairfax Community College, 1993 to 2003.
Maret High School in Washington, D.C., 1976.

• Civic and professional involvement
Upperville Colt and Horse Show Board of Directors, 2003 to present;
International service chairwoman for the Warrenton Rotary Club, 2006-07;
North American Riding for the Handicapped Association Board of Directors 1994-97; Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors 1990-92;
president and founder of the Virginia Regional Therapeutic Riding Center at MadCap Farm, 1991 to 2003

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
Since 1978 — 36 years.

• Why do you live here?
I have traveled and worked with horses all over the country. I love the pastures here. The horses can really graze freely and live like horses. Aesthetically, the county is beautiful. I love the balanced sense of community and commerce here.

• How do you describe this county?
Very welcoming. There are so many welcoming groups where you can have a balanced life.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
If there is anything I would change, I would want to see in Fauquier County and across the country, is an improvement in our school systems. A well-educated child becomes a healthy adult able to contribute back to society. I would say improve education in math, science and technology.

• What do you do for fun?
My work is fun! I love to travel. I went to Peru with the Rotary Club in 2007 and helped build a walking bridge in a community so kids could have access to school and the marketplace.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
Great Meadow. Main Street in Old Town Warrenton, as well. It is so quaint and there are so many wonderful events and programs they do there, like Evening Under the Stars and First Night. It really is charming and community-oriented.
The people are kind and always willing to help. You can have a one-on-one conversation with someone. Like if you go to the Town Hall and need to get a permit, you’re not a number like in the big cities.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
Fauquier has been able to balance growth pretty well. A community has to allow some level of development to keep going, but they have done a really good job so far of protecting the agricultural heritage of the county. I would love to see the county develop in tourism. It is a great way to feed the county and support local businesses without having to build homes on every half-acre.

• Favorite TV show?
“Hawaii Five-O” because the actor that plays McGarrett is so cute!

• Favorite movie?
“Sophie’s Choice”

• Favorite book?
“And Miles to Go: The Biography of a Great Arabian Horse, Witez II” by Linell Smith and “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck.

• Favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere in Europe. My next trip is to Argentina.

• Favorite food?
Organic! I love vegetables, yogurt, soups and salads. I have a simple palate and I don’t like complex dishes. I like to taste the nuance of the food.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
“The less you say, the more they think you know.” The world-renowned huntsman, Melvin Poe from Orange County (Hunt), told me that. (Mr. Poe lives in Hume.)

• Who’s your hero and why?
My dad. He is brilliant, but humble. He is kind, but strong, and he has had the ability to really live a full life. He grew up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and went into the Navy. Then he went to Syracuse University on the G.I. Bill and ended up graduating from Harvard with a law degree and became an attorney. He was also a presidential appointee. Not bad for a kid from Brooklyn who fluked first grade!

• What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?

Pay off any debt, go on vacation and invest it back into the farm. With a farmhouse over 200 years old, it could use a little tender loving care. The northeast end of the farm is full of natural springs. It would be fun to go into the bottled water business, providing healthy, clean water.

>> Suggest a “Faces of Fauquier” profile subject

Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? E-mail Cassandra Brown at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Editor Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Previous Faces of Fauquier:

• Remington cattle farmer Doug Linton loves his home and work.

• Sports central to Robert Glascock’s life’s work.

• For Richard Mast, company ownership started with his summer work as a teenager.

• Bernice Simpson knows northern Fauquier back roads and the people who live along them.

• Eddie Payne has logged 38 years as a volunteer firefighter in Marshall.


• Stephanie Layton turns her lifelong passion for dance into her livelihood.


• Shawn LaRue matches children and adoptive families.


• Biker and psychology major Clif Stroud makes music in a big way.

• Becky Crouch greets lots of visitors.

• She helped blaze trail to equality for black teachers.


• Family and food come first for Marshall pizzeria employee.

• Rural “closeness” of Fauquier appeals to Kansas native

• A “spoke” in the wheel of preservation.

• His job dovetails with passion for hunting

• Veteran educator sees the potential in every child.

• His passions: Fixing cars and helping people


• Habitat ReStore volunteer appreciates Fauquier’s diversity.


• Dad’s example led to new career at Fauquier Hospital.

• He lives and works in a beautiful place.

• The Goldvein firehouse ranks as his favorite place.


• Pretty things everywhere she looks.

• Through scouting, he encourages girls to explore.

• One day, he might run the company.


• FISH volunteer likes to help others.

• She sees the community’s generosity.

• Cop patrols while most people sleep.


• Pastor a constant in Calverton.


• She keeps the courthouse spotless.


• He loves working working outdoors at the park.


• She sees “everyone” at Carousel

• Library assistant works in a “fun place"

• Hat lady sets up shop in Old Town Warrenton



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