In Middleburg, a Special Kind of Horsepower

No square dancing. No hay. No beans. So why was an elegant young woman like Andy Harris wearing goofy braids, a polka-dot dress and cowboy boots?

"Somewhere in here it says 'Hoedown,' " said Harris, flipping through her program for Saturday night's dinner-dance at Mosby's Tavern in Middleburg. "This morning I was wearing breeches and English riding boots."

Okay, so maybe the "Hoedown" benefit for Virginia Regional Therapeutic Riding Center was more downtown--fettucine Alfredo, Virginia wine and a jazz band--than down-home. But the 150 people who attended the center's ninth annual fund-raiser would probably have shown up no matter the event was called.

The facility, at MadCap Farm, helps adults and children with disabilities by letting them ride and care for horses. "The horses know," said VRTRC founder Jeanne Blackwell. "They just know."

Ted Pruiksma had a stroke six years ago that put him in a wheelchair. "I had never been near a horse," the 69-year-old said with a laugh. Then he met Sofie, a Morgan quarter horse he now rides once a week, and fell madly in love with the gentle, brown-eyed beauty.

"We just became soul mates," he said. "She knows me and I know her. I found freedom on that horseback." The riding strengthed his torso so much that Pruiksma can now stand and use a walker--which he gratefully demonstrated during his remarks after dinner.

Next year, we say make it a real hoedown and invite the horses, too.

Teri Hatcher, Looking Super

Washington is the last stop for Teri Hatcher's four-city tour in "Cabaret," so Thursday's opening-night cast party at the M&S Grill downtown was filled with congratulations and hugs. Hatcher, far left, who plays Sally Bowles in the Warner Theatre production, vamped with cast member Jeanine Morick and other pals; below left, Kit Kat Girl Alison Ewing posed with pal Rick Kelly. But what fans really want to know is this: How cute is the former "Lois & Clark" star in person? Sweet, sexy, without-an-ounce- of-fat cute.

Grin and Share It

There were grins all around when Thai Ambassador Nitya Pibulsonggram hosted a dinner Tuesday night for 80 student volunteers from Operation Smile. "I'm happy to leave my future in their hands," said Pibulsonggram, below left, with physicians Yuth Nimit and Chris Magee, co-founder of the local Smile chapter. The Norfolk-based nonprofit organization sends medical teams around the world to correct facial deformities in children, and Thailand--where doctors expect to perform surgery on 150 patients in October--is the next stop. Student workers, above, including Greg Magee, Mikey Azzara, Teddy Richardson, Bryan Lynch and Julia Magee, will help pre-op patients by using the universal language of crayons and toys. Their goal is simple, said 16-year-old volunteer Megan James: "Go out and save the world."

CAPTION: Clockwise from left, Katy Hamilton and Stephen Roszel get up at the Hoedown; Jeanne Blackwell lends a hand to Ted Pruiksma; Lizzy Blair admires Andy Harris's pigtails and finery.