Saturday, September 15, 2012

Merlin and Me: First Drive in Our Gear!

Last night Brett pulled Merlin's refurbished harness out of the back of the college's green van. It looked like a totally different beast. When Brett suggested he take the dirty, cracked, and rusty Haflinger Harness I bought off eBay up to his Amish friend, William Beachy I was skeptical. I could not imagine what could be done to clean up the old box of leather and brass. But before me was a beautiful, black, sleek harness and William had replaced any of the parts that had been beyond repair. There was also some new items to behold: a used bridle, new biothane lines, and some other odds and ends. I now had the horse, the cart, and finally the harness ready to go. Tomorrow when Patty arrived we would put it all together for the first time.

Brett was here because himself and 17 of his Forestry college seniors camped here at the farm last night. Cold Antler was a comfortable place to crash between their two day field trip of famous New England forest management sites. It was the perfect opportunity to deliver the harness and his timing could not have been better. He arrived two days before the Washington County Draft Animal Association's ride in Arlington Vermont. On Sunday Merlin and I would be stepping out with the team for our first event as members of the club. Before that happened though, we'd need a harness fitting and crash course. That's where Patty fit in.

By 2PM with the college vans long gone you would think the place would be quiet. But when I stepped outside to check on Merlin I was shocked into a dead halt mid-stride by the sound of bagpipes! The home across the street was hosting a Scottish wedding. When Patty arrived shortly after she laughed out loud, and asked "Did you set this up?!" I shook my head happily. Those pipes were the perfect soundtrack for the day's work. Music of celebration. Above is the video of Merlin listening to the pipes before we tacked up. He seems interested!

Everything we had in cart, harness, and tack (save for the driving lines, whip, and cart tires) was used. The harness came from eBay and the collar used to be Steele's. The cart was bought cheap at auction and painted and restored by Mark and Patty as a birthday present. All together it came to a grand total of $285 dollars and a summer worth of friends and associates scrounging estate sales, soaking old leather in oil, painting old metal and wood, and making personal connections. None of it, NONE OF IT, was even remotely possible alone. Patty and Brett made this rig possible. Brett helped with the leather and Patty with the vehicle. With these two people I feel as grateful as I do unstoppable.

Melina and Robert had sent me a text a few hours earlier saying they were camping and wanted to know if they could stop by to say hi? They were also with me the first time I ever met Merlin and so I had to invite them over for our first drive at the farm. They would adore it. Robert and Melina are both drawn to horses and since meeting Merlin have even taken lessons. Anyway, they were happy to arrive and by the time they pulled into the farm's driveway Merlin, Patty and I were already up the road at a light trot. The wedding was in full swing, the pipes hollering, the sun had come out and all seemed perfect.

Driving Merlin felt as natural as walking. I though there would be fear, or beginner's stumbling, but there wasn't. The cart, the harness, the friends all around me: everything fit perfectly. Little touches like a back name plate with Cold Antler Farm on it made me beam. Below the cart I strapped a vintage roller skate case that held our extra halter, lead, fly spray and rain gear. None of this was up to Show Driving standards but I'll be damned if I didn't feel twenty feet tall.

Tomorrow is the club event at the Arlington Grange. Anyone can come to the pancake breakfast (6 dollars a plate) from 8AM till 10AM and then at 11AM you can see a dozen horse rigs take off in a parade down along the Battenkill River towards Vermont. If there are enough spaces open on team wagons, chances are good you can even ride along and join us! Stop by to meet the club, the horses, take photos and just enjoy a fall day in pure Farm Country. If you do show up, say hello to me and my boy. If you're not sure which team is Merlin and me, just look for the light. I'll be the one glowing.


Blogger DarcC said...

So thrilled for you!

September 15, 2012 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

the little trunk suspended under the cart reminds me of the old picture of your college appartment, with jazz on the bed and the trunks stacked at the foot of your bed... my how far you've come!

September 15, 2012 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

i didn't see a cup holder! =o)

September 15, 2012 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger admin said...

What a perfect day! Love the cart AND the sounds of Cold Antler. Have fun tomorrow!

September 15, 2012 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

Awesome, the whole shebang. Love the rear plate with your names!

September 15, 2012 at 7:32 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Jenna, I love this pic of you and Merlin. Your sweet smile says it all. Happy for you. Enjoy tomorrow.

September 15, 2012 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger Karen Rickers said...

Wow, you sure are glowing in that one pic! How lovely! Have a great day tomorrow.

September 15, 2012 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

That is so amazing, Jenna! You look so happy and that Merlin, he's beautiful. Y'all will be the best looking team on the road tomorrow. Have fun and enjoy the day. And I love bagpipes. The way Merlin was looking toward them is so cool. Like he's heard them before.

September 15, 2012 at 11:01 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Really cool!!!

September 16, 2012 at 12:10 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

YAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!! Everything looks AWESOME!!! Esp. you and Merlin!! Have a blast tomorrow!!! :)

September 16, 2012 at 12:23 AM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

That is just so very cool! I hope you have a fantabulous time at the parade!

September 16, 2012 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger candisrrt said...

super duper cool

September 16, 2012 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger sash said...

What a great photo of pure joy!

September 16, 2012 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


September 16, 2012 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger Pistachio said...

How I miss my horses!!! When I was a kid, we hooked our pony up to a toboggan with an old harness we found in the barn (keep in mind we had the most patient pony and we were around 10 years old). He pulled us through the snow and anyone in the front seat would get epic amounts of snow in there face!!! What a wonderful

Your smile is the smile that only comes from having a horse! Love the videos and looking forward to seeing more!!!

September 16, 2012 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

Forestry college? Wouldn't happen to have been Paul Smiths would it? I grew up there--my father taught English at PSC for close to 10 years.

September 16, 2012 at 5:07 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Love that smile! You look like a kid on Christmas morning. Be well, have fun.

September 16, 2012 at 8:08 PM  

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