In the span of over four decades, the Pittsford Carriage Association's Walnut Hill Farm Driving Competition has grown from an informal marathon drive of 14 vehicles to a five-day, internationally recognized driving event. PCA President and Walnut Hill Chairperson William Remley (1940-2010) was understandably proud to say that Walnut Hill earned the title as the largest pleasure driving competition in the country.
Our Timeline ...
Bill and Sue Remley buy Walnut Hill. The inspiration for the Pittsford Carriage Association and its Walnut Hill Farm Driving Competition arose as a Remley family compromise between Sue Remley’s horsewoman background and Bill’s interest in history and the romanticism of the era of horse and carriage.
Bill is asked to be president of the Rochester-Canandaigua Horse Show, a revival of the Rochester Exposition. He meets key people to help put together the Walnut Hill show: mentor and first Walnut Hill judge John Burkholder; Robert Heinold, official show photographer for the Rochester-Canandaigua Horse Show; Harold (“Hack”) Marchant and the late Gerry Mead of Owego, New York.
About Walnut Hill Farm - Our History
Bill begins investigating carriage shows, finding few driving classes in any area shows and even fewer driving shows. Bill and his fellow enthusiasts consider developing a showcase specifically for carriages to bring together people who enjoy driving in a relaxed, congenial atmosphere. The Pittsford Carriage Association was born. Its major objective was to use horse and carriage to promote public interest in their contributions to our country’s cultural, social, and economic history.
In October, Bill’s romantic notion of recreating an 1890s Sunday drive through New York’s Central Park results in an informal picnic drive through Mendon Ponds Park. It draws 14 participants who brave 45-degree temperatures and snow. This event becomes the popular Sunday morning Presentation Pleasure Drive through Mendon Ponds Park where the public lines the road to enjoy the variety of turnouts.
Walnut Hill is now a major stop on the carriage-driving circuit, known for its unique courses and hospitality. Progressive obstacle, fault & out obstacle, and cross-country obstacle classes were introduced early in Walnut Hill’s development as was the percentage point scoring system, now widely used in many pleasure driving shows.
A runabout division is created.
Reinsmanship classes are added.
A coaching division, tandem division, and scurry obstacle classes are introduced as well as a coach horn-sounding competition and an exciting coaching quick-change, not staged since before World War I. Over the next few years, the cross-country course continues to expand.
Exhibitors, horses, and carriages are housed next to the show ground instead of in nearby stables.
World Coaching Club Annual Meeting, “Jorritt” Friesian Stallion Musical Ride; Jack Russell Terrier Races.
Performance by Ft. Sill (Oklahoma) Field Artillery Half Section horse drawn vehicle used during World War I; Kateland Farm American Miniature Horse Drill Team performs; Jack Russell Terrier Races.
Kateland Farm American Miniature Horse Drill Team performs; Stillwater Farm Percheron Six Horse Hitch from Canada performs; Border collie Sheep Herding with Joyce Geier; Jack Russell Terrier Races.
A Personal Reflection
It was Bill Remley’s vision, romanticism, organization, innovation, flexibility and knowledge that allowed the Walnut Hill Farm Driving Competition to become a reality. As the show organizer, he felt personally responsible for anticipating every potential or real situation.
Bill surrounded himself with detail people committed to excellence, creativity, and enthusiasm. During the show, Bill served as “answer man and troubleshooter,” but the rest of the year he was a jack-of-all-trades.
Simulating the conditions of the 1890s has always been a major consideration. The cross-country course includes obstacles of the time: a covered bridge, carousel, water hazards, an abandoned sugar shed, woods, open country, and farm machinery. The courses are challenging, but can be driven by a novice or once-a-year amateur.
Walnut Hill is the only show to use a Whip Master to judge the capabilities of each entry and determine an order for the Presentation Pleasure Drive, ensuring safety as well as “eye appeal” for spectators. Many general rules and regulations, especially those dealing with safety, were first introduced and enforced at Walnut Hill.
Walnut Hill’s Success Story
Besides the satisfaction of producing a popular and superbly orchestrated show, Bill Remley was afforded the opportunity to live out his romantic fantasies of a return to the more stately Victorian era for an entire week each year! It is a major factor in attracting most driving enthusiasts and spectators to the sport, and the essential ingredient in producing the Walnut Hill success story. The Walnut Hill Farm Carriage Driving Competition continues to innovate and prosper with the support of its dedicated directors, members, exhibitors, spectators, and supporters.
Jack Russell Terrier Races are initiated at the “Walnut Hill Downs,” adding a fun dimension of “organized chaos!”
20th Walnut Hill Farm Anniversary, Russian Troika comes to Walnut Hill Farm, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra performs, and Morrisville College Six Horse Hitch entertains.
25th Walnut Hill Farm Anniversary; Performance by Ft. Sill (Oklahoma) Field Artillery Half Section horse drawn vehicle used during World War I.
Coaching Run begins with Coaches taking an evening stroll down to a nearby farm; Cowboy Dressage by Karen Meyers; Western New York Ladies Barrel Racing.
35th Walnut Hill Farm Anniversary; Performance by Ft. Sill (Oklahoma) Field Artillery Half Section horse drawn vehicle used during World War I.
Texas Trick Riders, Troop Texas Austin Anderson performs, Friendship Fire Department Silsby Steamer aka "Miss Daisy" Steam Pumper (circa 1881); Kateland Farm American Miniature Horse Drill Team.
Walnut Hill celebrates its 45th anniversary; Ed Young, Bill’s right hand man for many years, rejoins as Show Manager.