BY JOSH WALKER | PHOTOS PROVIDED BY ANITA MOTION
“With the imminent approach of my 90th birthday, I have decided it is time for me to retire from the Middleburg Tack Exchange,” Jo Motion wrote on the homepage of the store’s website. She opened the charming consignment tack shop in Middleburg, Virginia, 30 years ago. Now she’s passing the reins to a like-minded family friend of three generations to ensure that the shop keeps the character that only a town like Middleburg could shape.
She discovered the magnetic little building with big windows on West Federal Street thanks to Nancy Lee, a friend she endearingly calls Mrs. Middleburg.
“If you needed to know anything, you’d go to Nancy,” Motion said. She snatched up the lease on the property before it was ever listed and has kept it ever since. In that building, Motion built a second home for many horse people in the town and beyond. It became a space that encapsulated the warm charm of the Middleburg community itself, and she had initially modeled it after a small tack shop called Sandon Saddlery near her home in New Market, England. “That’s where I dressed my own children,” she recalled.
Motion landed in Middleburg, a suburb of Washington D.C., back in the 1950s. “I wouldn’t have done it anywhere else,” she said. “Middleburg is synonymous with the horse world and it’s the hub of the foxhunting community.”
In the early days, she always kept a coffee pot fresh to keep foxhunters in the store and sharing stories. “I made a lot of friends that way,” she remembered. As Motion further embraced the community one sip at a time, her store began to reflect everything that the Middleburg community was and was becoming.
“Middleburg is everything, you know? You’ve got foxhunting, eventing, steeplechase, Upperville [Horse Show] nearby… you’re going to find everything to do with horses in and around Middleburg,” she said.
Jo Motion Photo courtesy of Anita Motion
Jo Motion and Nickel Coin. winner of the Grand National. Photo courtesy of Anita Motion
Now, at go years young, she’s passing the business on to Geraldine Peace. “I didn’t want to sell it,” Motion explained. “I wanted to know who was going to get it and how it would be continued because I think it’s important to continue it in much the same way.”
Motion said, like the beloved partners who have worked with her in her shop for 20 and 30 years, Peace appreciates its reputation and charm.
She understands the community it serves and what it means to the area. ‘She’s very much of the same mind as me,” said Motion, who has known Peace since living in England. “Her father was our veterinarian at the start in New Market.”
When her father moved the family to Toronto to teach at a veterinary college, Peace eventually, and perhaps inevitably, found her way down to Middleburg.
The foxhunting community thanks Motion for her support of the sport through the years and her generosity in sponsoring events like the Central States Hound Show, the Virtual Hound Show and more.