Friday, February 10, 2012

meet steel, my new mentor

I just had such an amazing experience a few miles up the road at Livingston Farm. Patty gave me a driving 101 lesson with her Percheron, Steel. Steel is 8-years-old and 17 hands. He weighs 1800 pounds and yet (surprise surprise) was easier to control than my Jasper. She went over harnessing, ground driving, basic line direction and talked about the local Draft Club. She then hitched him up to a large Meadowbrook Harness (thus named because they are a sturdy two-wheeled cart that can handle either the meadow or the brook! think early ATV) and we drove right down the road. It was Patty, Meg, and I and when she handed me the lines I was more comfortable than I ever felt in a truck or car. I got to drive a draft horse at a trot down a country road on a Friday morning. Cars and vans and trailers passed us and Steel was a perfect gentleman. He has done parades, fairs, the works. Patty and his story is quite the inspirational one too, since just three years ago neither of them knew each other or how to drive. Now they wave as trucks pass them on route 29.

It was a thrill I can't compare with any recent events in my life. A type of exhilaration that feels so correct and genuine you aren't sure if you are really you, or a configuration of idealistic nostalgia from postcards, books, and movies. Regardless, I was alive. I was foaming for more. And she invited me over to train with her, learn from her, and work with her neighbors Haflinger, Waylon, as I learn towards getting my own Haflinger someday.

I met Patty because she came to my reading at Battenkill Books. What a great connection, I am so grateful to have met her and her husband Mark. The work they are doing to restore and bring life to their 1800's barn and farmstead is remarkable. This is going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

29 Comments:

Blogger Tina - Our Rustic Roots said...

He's gorgeous! I'm glad you made (several) new friends there and I can't wait to hear more about you training with her.

February 10, 2012 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

Congratulations, Jenna. Looking forward to seeing more photos. Will Steel plow the garden as well as pull a cart? Jasper will soon be as good.

Very cold here in TN.

February 10, 2012 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Steel logs, carts, rides, and ploughs. He's a great beast! Hoping Meg will send more photos, my phone died during the drive, but sounds like we'll have more time and more lessons soon.

February 10, 2012 at 2:49 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

Oooh, I think I'm feeling a twinge of green here... ;) Lucky you!! What a handsome fella' that Steel is! :D

February 10, 2012 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger PattyW said...

I am thrilled to have a new friend to drive with! Thank you for taking the time to look around and share in my farm too. I've been trotting down the roads singing and talking to Steele mostly by myself- its fun to share the magic of hoofbeats!

February 10, 2012 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

when can i come over again Patty!

You have the best horse in this whole damn valley, far as I'm concerned. (I have the sassiest though)

February 10, 2012 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger Karen Rickers said...

You lucky dog! :-D

February 10, 2012 at 3:36 PM  
Blogger The Hunt Box said...

Really neat! I've driven a handful of times over the years (from a pony cart to wagon to a two-wheeled low cart used for QH shows) and I'm afraid I'm more comfortable on top of the horse than behind it! I feel so much more in control when riding, but I do admire the talent and practice that goes into skillful driving. Especially for the competition four-in-had stuff! I'm a fan of the draft breeds and our main hunt horse is a Percheron/Thoroughbred cross. He's 16.2hh and 1500 pounds, so he's a bit of a tank.

February 10, 2012 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger *jean* said...

i have relatives that raise percherons, he's a real beauty!

February 10, 2012 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger reliker said...

I am drooling. I've done a bit of driving but more for pleasure than work. Draft horses seem to be the one animal my husband and I can agree upon when we settle down somewhere. Share more when it happens, please!
-Rachael from The Rehomesteaders

February 10, 2012 at 3:50 PM  
OpenID Tami said...

Now that's authentic!

February 10, 2012 at 4:02 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...

Jenna,
Well, you never really know what's going to happen next at CAF, & this is a prime example! And a terrific story will certainly come
out of this I'm sure so...
I will continue to read the best blog on the internet as far as I'm concerned which is Cold Antler Farm.
Thanks, &
Ronnie a very happy x seat weaver!

February 10, 2012 at 4:05 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

You can see the cart in the background, with the giant wooden wheels!

February 10, 2012 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger darius said...

What a great opportunity! Thanks foe4 sharing it...

February 10, 2012 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

He's one of my favorite horse colors! So glad you have somebody to work with...maybe he can give Jasper some pointers as well? ;)

February 10, 2012 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

What a guy! Did you get some of my pictures, Jenna?

February 10, 2012 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger pawsfurme said...

OOOOH jealous!! My dream draft horse is a Gypsy Vanner...except for the $15K price tag.
Like with your Gibson guitar, "someday she'll be mine". :)

February 10, 2012 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger jugtownjane said...

I once hogged a lot of time during "Animal Care 10...5?" when they brought in a cart and two horses. Jealous, but a neighbor down the road needs help with breaking a new horse with the older one around, so I've been (somewhat pushily, perhaps) recruited! Here's to all things equine and neighborly!

February 10, 2012 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger jugtownjane said...

...as well as all things Gypsy Vanner! I feel your pain, pawsfurme!

February 10, 2012 at 7:46 PM  
Blogger phaedra96 said...

Nothin's like a Percheron!!

February 10, 2012 at 7:49 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Except a Belgian!!

February 10, 2012 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Jenny Glen said...

I got to drive an old competition driving horse a couple of summers ago. It was a blast! The sensitivity in his mouth was amazing. I pretty much just thought about the direction and he would respond.

February 10, 2012 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

How exciting, Jenna! I am still surprised you haven't looked into a Morgan, as close as you are to Vermont! Did you ever read "Justin Morgan had a Horse" when you were younger? What a lovely little book. Captured my imagination when I was little, and when I was older, I actually got to be a working student on a Morgan Horse Farm in Southern Vermont. We trained all breeds, and I had an Arabian and a Thorobred, but the Morgans sure were characters and working with the Morgan babies was such fun. Now I'm a psuedo-desk-jockey and I miss it like crazy! What a treat those lessons must have been for you! Thanks for the smile!

February 10, 2012 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

Oh how wonderful to be looking at those big, broad horse backsides. My father used to tend a beautiful pair of Belgians and it was always great fun to take them out in the field! Enjoy!

February 11, 2012 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger CarolG. said...

I loved your comment about your new mentor. I haven't done much driving however I taught myself to ride. I then had the privilege of riding some very well trained horses who taught me a LOT. When I would ride one of them for a few hours, if I rode mine the next day all of a sudden he 'knew' a whole lot more! Pretty good proof to me of the benefit of such mentors.

February 11, 2012 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

I love my Haflinger! She's so sweet and gentle! She was also extremely patient with me as I learned to drive on her! Unfortunately, I don't work her enough, so she's not being used as she should be!

February 12, 2012 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Karen Smith said...

Oh, Jenna! How wonderful for you! I am so very jealous, but really very happy for you, too. :)

February 13, 2012 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jenna...great post wonderful pictures. I know the feeling and it's magical! I have friends who drive Percherons and have been in the boxseat with them and it's great fun! But, I have to say, I drive ponies the size of Jasper and they are way more fun...no bigger heart resides in any sized equine like that of a pony - they will humble you to your core one minute and jump the moon for you the next! You have such great adventures ahead! Happy driving to you!

February 13, 2012 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jenna...great post wonderful pictures. I know the feeling and it's magical! I have friends who drive Percherons and have been in the boxseat with them and it's great fun! But, I have to say, I drive ponies the size of Jasper and they are way more fun...no bigger heart resides in any sized equine like that of a pony - they will humble you to your core one minute and jump the moon for you the next! You have such great adventures ahead! Happy driving to you!

February 13, 2012 at 9:55 AM  

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