Saturday, November 28, 2009

Two Weeks Later

We went for a drive yesterday...behind our very own pair of Cream Draft Horses!

Lucy and Joy are, in fact driving a carriage, after just two weeks in training.  I'm very, very proud of them, especially since they're only four and three years old.  Drafts are bred to work, so I guess once they accept the inevitable, the process goes pretty smoothly.

The day was gorgeous--chilly, with bright sunshine and a few colorful leaves still clinging to the trees.  We watched the girls being hitched up, then jumped in the back of the cart and took off to the sweet sound of clip-clopping hooves.  Lucy is still a little lazy, and had to be urged to pull her share of the weight.  Joy is the stoic--keeps her head down and just goes along until somebody tells her she can stop now.

The best part was when we left the street and turned into the woods.  No clip-clops on the sandy ground, but the sight of those creamy horses going along through the autumn landscape just thrilled me.  They turned corners and stood still very nicely.  And they were both very glad to reach the barn again!

I finally got to see the dent Lucy put in the trainer's truck fender.  Oh, my.  So much worse than I expected.  And I guess I'll be a little more careful when I go to pushing Lucy around when she gets stubborn.  Clearly, I'm not the one with the muscles in this situation!

All the best,


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rough Draft

This was THE week!  Lucy and Joy were finally going to Bill Long to be trained to drive.  To be driven, that is.  They've each worn the driving harness without protest, including the crupper--a loop that goes under the tail to keep the harness in place--and the bridle wth blinders.  Very encouraging.

But first, they needed to look like respectable driving horses.  Sunday, I brought them up to the cross ties and clipped the bridle path behind their ears--that gets their mane out from underneath the the bridle, obviously.  And I trimmed their whiskers so they'd look nice and ladylike.  So far, so good.

Monday was bath day.  I soaped Lucy's mane heavily, to whiten it, then went to wash the rest of her--not a small task.  Unfortunately, Lucy lost patience fairly quickly.  The rinsing process became a battle, especially regarding her mane.  Lucy DOES NOT want water on her head. 

Joy's bath was less combative, but left her in a really bad mood.  We all parted that evening on rather distant terms.

Next morning...Tuesday...I set about conveying the girls to their new school.  Lucy has recovered her equilibrium, and except for the blue black dirty soap scum in the mane behind her ears, we're back to normal.  Of course, she changes her mind when she's standing in the trailer and starts backing out before I can latch the bar behind her.  A butt bar, we call it.  Now there's one draft horse running around loose.  Great.

I get Joy, who's still mad, and coax her into the other side of the trailer with treats, which I--clever human!--leave on the floor just beyond her reach, so she can smell them and focus forward till I get the butt bar closed.

Then I go to fetch Lucy, who decides she needs some exercise before boarding the trailer again.  She gallops three full laps around the outside of the field, with Abby and TBone running along the inside of the fence.  I managed to divert her through the open gate into the paddock, which works well except for the fact that Abby escapes at the same time. 

Time out while I go fetch Abby.

Okay.  Abby's back where she belongs.  And Lucy's finally calm enough to stand still for a halter.  The treats I left for Joy work their magic on Lucy, too, and I get the butt bar latched.  Whew!  Everything else will be a piece of cake, right?

To my surprise, the girls traveled well, disembarked easily, and walked pretty quietly into their stalls.  I stood around babbling to Bill about them...until I realized I sounded like a kindergartener's mother on the first day of school.  I made myself shut up.  Then I went home to my three regular horses.

Wednesday evening, I saw Bill at the driving club meeting.  "How are my girls doing?"

He grinned, and I started to worry.  "Lucy wouldn't go forward pulling the tire," he said.  Training to drive starts with something light to pull, like a tire on the ground.


"She ran backward,"  Bill said, still grinning.  "And dented the fender of my truck with her butt."

Thus endeth the first lesson!