Horses, Hames, & Sleepy Hollow
Today twelve people got together to talk about working horses, ride working horses, and even drive a working horse. Some were here to for R&D to learn about what goes into keeping and containing a single horse. Others wanted to get an introduction to driving and learn the harness and hames with guided hands. Some just plain old like coming to workshops, and smelling horse and dead leaves on their hands. And out of all those reasons none is better than the other.
We started the workshop at my farm. Folks pulled in as I was grooming Merlin, getting him ready for the morning riding demonstration. The plan was to show everyone the basic grooming supplies, practices, and reasoning behind a clean horse before you start saddling up. As we brushed and curry combed people asked questions and got their answers. The workshop was very organic this way, that we might be in the middle of explaining how to inspect a saddle pad but then off on a tangent about shoes vs barefoot and bit harshness. But we always managed to stay (roughly) on track and before noon everyone watched me saddle and ride Merlin through a hissy fit (extra entertainment) and then take a turn in the saddle, learning to sit with their heels down and calm shoulders and arms as they were lead around the farmyard. Merlin was a gentleman and a great sport. At 14 hands he wasn't intimidating and his draft personality really shone through.
Psst. If you want to read an account of the day and see more pictures of Merlin and us riding along check out R'Eisen Shine Farm's blog post here!
We broke for lunch and then reconvened at Patty's Farm to go over the work of a horse in the field. Patty went through harness and collar fitting, vehicles, ground driving and moved heavy stones across her barnyard via a homemade stone boat! Everyone who wanted a pair of lines in their hands or a ride in a forecart got one. By the time evening started to fall we were all a bit weary from the long day outside and ready for warm food and cold beer around that cracklin' fire.
No one got hurt. Quite the contrary, really. There wasn't any fear or danger to the day as safety was my number one goal. And everyone who attended seemed in great spirits. It seemed that by the time we were basking in the campfire everyone was also holding great spirits. The homebrew was a little flat, needed more time for carbonation, but went down smooth and dark. I sipped it slowly as I listened to the fate of the school teacher and Gunpowder the plow horse. We were passing around the book and reading out loud and it was more engaging and entertaining than any big screen TV. My imagination went a little wild, thinking of poor old Icabod riding home in the dark as the massive headless horseman matched his pace in the forest road. I smiled as I shivered, looked over at the smiling jack-o-lantern across the fire and let out a deep sigh as I took a long sip. Darn, that was good stuff. I laughed to myself, thinking how tell people I like my horses and beer the same way: strong, dark, and stout. The fire cracked, the story read on, and the night was the perfect ending to a beautiful day.