I didn’t grow up on a farm. I didn’t even grow up in the country. However my love for agriculture has grown over the years; to the point you have to drag me away from the barn.
My grandfather was a veterinarian – both farm and small animal. While he passed away when I was only 10 months old I believe his passion and love for animals are the gifts he left me. He gave the same gifts to my mom. Growing up she spent all of her free time at the Pony Club and competitions. She no longer rides but can be found ringside on weekends in the summer.
There is something refreshing about the lifestyle. Simple. Calming. Welcoming. That’s not to undermine the gritty work it takes to maintain a farm. Many of my closest friends are farmers. They rise while I am still lost in dreams and come in from the barn long after I am cozied back up. Their vacations are spent at fairs and exhibitions, proudly showcasing their animals.
I have been fortunate to be able to take in many shows – both local and national – from ringside over the years. When I got to ride in a 6 horse hitch last year I didn’t think it could get any better. That was until this:
That’s right. That’s me with reins in my hands and two clydesdales at the end of them. I am still somewhat lost for words.
Last weekend was the first weekend hubs and I have had off together in close to 5 months. Our jobs are demanding and we both give back to our community. So what better way to spend our first day off together than at the farm, right? Seriously. He’s got the patience of a saint with me.
Good friends of ours have a clydesdale farm. We decided to bring The Beast with us. I was incredibly nervous given she herds anything that moves. But her reaction to the gentle giants was priceless. She couldn’t figure out that it was possible for another 4 legged creature to be bigger than her.
The McLaughlins already had one team hitched and were out driving when we arrived. After the introduction we made our way to the pit and hopped in Leon (the buggy). We cruised around in the open air being pulled by true horse power. The sun was hot and so were the boys.
After making our way back to the barn it was time for one of the mares and her foal Darby to go out for a play and graze. Watching a mare interact with her foal is similar to a new mom with her baby. There was bonding, teaching, and always a watchful eye.
Cart before the horse
I stood in the middle of the paddock in my usual position: lens focused on the team. Crissy stood next to me and asked if she could see my camera. Thinking nothing of it I handed it over. That’s when Cousin Bob hopped out of the buggy.
“Let’s go” Amber said with a smile on her face. And that’s when my heart sped off.
I have zero idea what she said to me but all of a sudden the leather was woven between my fingers and Luke and Levi were moving. In different directions nonetheless.
It was in those seconds I had an entirely new appreciation for drivers of heavy horse hitches. Four thousand pounds of sheer muscle was now in my hands. Literally. Drivers make it look effortless. It was nothing close.
I could read Luke’s thoughts. Oh, you didn’t know I was a horse whisperer? They went along the lines of “WTF are you doing lady?”
My coach was patient and guided me through…
I’ve decided that driving a team of horses is all built on trust. Driver of horses and horses of driver. I’m sure they could sense my fear and complete buffoonery of what I was doing. But they were patient too.2