I’m sending all my energy to Patrick, but he isn’t listening. While I am perfectly content to rub his nose and stare into his big brown eyes, that is not
the purpose of my time in the ring with this strapping
I am participating in Equi-Spective, an equine introspective experience featured at Salamander Resort &
Spa in Middleburg, Va., during a recent three-day fam
at the resort.
Without the use of reins or any props, I am trying
to coerce him to walk in a circle around a ring, but he
stops and stands still. Our guide Sheryl Jordan tells
me to start again and this time I try to be more direct
with my intention. It works and Patrick is walking
around the ring without me physically leading him.
Jordan, who prefers the term horse listener over
horse whisperer, is equestrian director at Salamander and has spent more than 46 years working with
“Horses are very sophisticated,” she said. “They
are great at giving us feedback about how we are
presenting ourselves and whether we’re authentic.
They teach about the importance of intention, energy
and action. You can learn life lessons from horses—
personal, professional or social.”
Jordan explained we need to become aware of
our energetic fields.
“If we are skeptical or closed-mind-ed, energy retracts, but if we are
open it expands,” she said.
“We can influence horses
to come close or back off.
With self-awareness comes
She created this program
20 years ago and can gear it
toward corporate groups of
12 to 20, offering to split the
session into two groups, one
in the morning and the other in
“Sometimes the corporate
group comes in with a specific intention,” Jordan said.
“They might have a goal and I gear the program to
reinforce what they are working on. I have had groups
come away as a more cohesive unit with more respect
and understanding of each other.”
Our day with Patrick was just one highlight of a
weekend at the resort, which is set on 340 acres at
the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We also
spent an afternoon with Empower Adventures on the
Tree Top Zip Tour, which starts and finishes at the
resort’s Great Lawn. The course spans 20 acres on
over 2,500 feet of ziplines.
Following a safety talk, we ascended a staircase
to the Empower Tower and zipped over a series of
lines that vary in length from 90 to 670 feet, each of
us gaining confidence with every zip as they became
longer and faster. We also gingerly walked over two
shaky suspension bridges in between just to literally
keep us on our toes. Though the process was less tied
to group-think, it was definitely a lesson in confidence
boosting, which can also be prescribed for groups.
Between excursions, Salamander’s talented team
of chefs provided nearly all the other entertainment,
starting with what was dubbed “The First Taste,” a
dinner in a private dining room at Harrimans Virginia
Piedmont Grill, featuring local cuisine and ingredients
like blueberries from the Culinary Garden. Executive
Chef Ryan Arensdorf started with
cheese and charcuterie and we
ended with decadent desserts
hand-crafted by Execu-
tive Pastry Chef Jason
We also indulged in
the resort’s renowned
Crispy Cauliflower as
well as irresistible
sweet potato tots.
For our Sunday
brunch, the spread
ized omelets, a meat
carving station and a
plethora of pastry options
in case we were still hungry.
During our stay, we also had the fortune of attend-
ing the annual Twilight Tastings in the Equestrian
Center. Festivities included live music by the Songs
of Nashville and an all-you-can-eat barbecue-style
spread. There are more than 20 wineries within 30
minutes of Salamander Resort & Spa in Loudon Coun-
ty, dubbed D.C.’s Wine Country, many represented at
the event. Each booth offered tastings of their winery’s
top blends—with one purveyor even pouring absinthe.
The resort also showcased its Virginia countryside
setting at the outdoor terrace Gold Cup Wine Bar,
though afternoon rains kept us mostly indoors.
Off-site we had a private tasting at RdV (short for
Rendezvous) Vineyards in nearby Delaplane, taking
a tour with Estate Director Jarad Slipp. The winery is
located on 100 sprawling acres, 16 of which are plant-
ed for the vineyard.
“There is an art in the blends; everything is picked
by hand,” Slipp said.
Our wine flight included different years of Rendezvous wines, mostly blends of merlot, cabernet
sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot. Groups
can organize tours and tastings at RdV.
On my final day I indulged in a 50-minute well-being massage at the resort’s deluxe spa, incorporating
Swedish-style massage and aromatherapy. I started
the weekend learning how to project my energy and
ended remembering how to relax. m
By Marlene Goldman
SALAMANDER RESORT & SPA
A RETREAT IN THE FOOTHILLS OF THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS
LOUDON COUNTY CVB
703. 771. 2170
SALAMANDER RESORT & SPA
SALAMANDER RESORT & SPA
JARAD SLIPP, RDV VINEYARDS SHERYL JORDAN WI TH PATRICK
ON the SCENE