- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2000

A taste of the West can be found at the Marriott Ranch in Hume, Va. Out here, you'll find tranquility on the back of a horse. Riding through the mountains, breathing clean mountain air and listening to gurgling mountain streams awakens senses dulled by city living, and it's

easy to forget the nation's capital is just an hour away.

"J.W. Marriott bought the ranch in the early '50s as a place for his family," says Hubie Gilkey, stable manager. "When he passed on, it was sold to the corporation, and in 1988, it started doing trail rides."

The Marriott Ranch is a 4,200-acre working cattle ranch with 2,000 beef cattle and 160 longhorn cattle. In addition to trail rides, the ranch offers a number of special rides such as moonlight rides that coincide with the full moon, three-hour rides along the Rappahannock River, three-hour mountain rides and overnight rides.

Perhaps the most interesting of all are the ranch's cattle drives, held three times a year. The cattle drive takes from six to eight hours and affords an opportunity for 20 riders to participate in a real cattle drive on horses trained to work the cattle. This isn't done for fun. "The cattle are moved for a purpose" such as to administer vaccinations, Mr. Gilkey says.

Another option at the Marriott Ranch is overnight campouts that leave the ranch on Friday afternoon. After a four-hour ride to camp, tents are pitched and a meal is prepared. The following morning after breakfast, campers ride the four hours back to the ranch. "The only thing they have to provide is a sleeping bag," Mr. Gilkey says.

These special rides are restricted to riders age 16 and older, however.

Jean French, a full-time art teacher in Silver Spring, came out for a ride eight years ago and has been working summers at the ranch ever since.

"I've worked with horses all my life. This is what I love," she says.

Becky Lee and her 11-year-old daughter, Kelsey McGuire, of Reston visited the ranch for the first time recently. "It's going to be my first time ever. I am very excited," Kelsey said.

"She wants to take horseback lessons, and we thought this would be a good way to see if she likes it," Ms. Lee said.

"Ninety percent of the people who come here do not know how to ride," Mr. Gilkey says. He explains that the horses have been put through an extensive training program so they are safe for anyone. Horses are categorized and tagged with a green tag for inexperienced riders and a blue tag for anyone who has ridden before.

Twelve-year-old Shipen Royer of Bethesda has been on a number of trail rides out West. This was the first time he and his mother, Nan, had been to the Marriott Ranch. "We'd come back here and go on a private three-hour ride," Mrs. Royer said.

The ranch has 46 horses, most of which are quarter horses, plus four mules and five ponies, Mr. Gilkey says. The ranch is open every day except Monday, and on the second Saturday of the month, you can catch a team roping event with 68 teams competing. These events start in May with the last one of the year to be held at noon Sept. 9. Anyone is welcome to watch the free event.

The ranch has a number of part-time wranglers like Mike Barberio who have full-time jobs but spend weekends working at the ranch. Mr. Barberio has been a horseman since age 16 and has two horses that he owns and keeps on the ranch.

In addition to the outdoor activities at the ranch, two years ago the Inn at Fairfield Farm opened as a bed and breakfast in the ranch's Manor House.

The house was built by James Markham Marshall, brother of Chief Justice John Marshall, in 1814. From the front porch, you can see Shenandoah National Park and seemingly unlimited vistas.

The ranch has an interesting history that dates back to Lord Fairfax, who inherited the land and came to America in 1734. Following the Revolutionary War, the Fairfax heirs sold the property to John and James Marshall. During World War II, a Belgian baroness, Jeanne Van Reininghaus Lambert, bought the property for her family, which escaped from Europe after her husband was taken by the Nazis.

J.W. Marriott bought the ranch in 1951 and renovated the Manor House, which had sat vacant for 30 years. The cottage house, which was home to the baroness, was also renovated and is available as a part of the bed and breakfast. In addition, a carriage house located a few steps from the Manor House also has two bedrooms.

Innkeeper Margarita Logan greets you and invites you to relax in the living room with its 16-foot ceilings and enjoy the sounds of soft music or play a tune on the piano. Next to the living room, the library has photos of the Marriott family, which gives a homey feel. The house is furnished as it was when the Marriott family used it as a retreat.

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