Ever since we purchased Tonka in July 04, it has been a dream of mine to learn how to drive (horses that is, not cars!) The past two summers, I have spent riding him, not just because I don't know how to drive, but also a way to get to know him better. This year, however, I decided that I really want to look into this driving thing, so I have asked my horse friends a million questions, and have done some reading on the topic.
Laura, my trainer, has started "us" in ground driving. It is a much different view from the ground/back of the horse, than it is from the top/front of the horse, and I have learned one thing.... I have MUCH to learn!!! But Tonka is a patient boy, and that is to my great advantage.
About six weeks ago, I got a flyer from Meader's Horse Supply in Rochester, NH. Ed and I first went there when we got Tonka to look for tack. We realized that he really isn't big enough for the "draft" stuff, and yet a little too big for "horse" stuff, so finding tack has proven to be a challenge. Anyways, Meader's is a wonderful store, and we thought it would be fun to attend their open house, and certainly a place to ask more questions on driving.
Two weeks before the open house a reminder came in the mail, but what quickly caught my attention was the line..."if you would like your horse measured for a harness, call and make an appointment".. I was on the phone asap, and got a 1:30 pm appointment!!! I can't even begin to tell you, how much I looked forward to that day.
Saturday - October 28 - the rain was pouring down!!! The wind was high and there had been several "warnings" on the TV with regards to the bad weather! I was bummed! Shipping a horse in that kind of weather didn't seem like such a good idea, even though Tonka is good with the trailer, I wondered if it would be worth the time and trouble. I called Meader's to see if their day was still on, and whined to them about the weather, but they didn't seem too worried about it all. I was told that I could bring Tonka at any time and not to worry about the appointment time, so I said to Ed "let's go and see how we make out". He was pretty happy, because I know he was looking as forward to the day as I had been.
We went up to the barn to get Tonka, I decided he should wear his fleece, because even in the trailer I knew it would be a wet ride and I didn't want him to get chilled. He loaded beautifully for us, and we were on the road in a few minutes. The ride wasn't horrid, but I was glad to arrive at Meader's.
They sent us down to their horse barn. What a place that is!!! Very modern, large, well lit, clean, it was fun to see it. Dana was the gentleman doing the measuring. He liked Tonka right from the start and talked to us about a team that he had and had done some logging with. It was fun to hear his stories. Tonka was wonderful, he stood perfectly quiet during the measuring and while we talked. Ed noticed that they had a horse scale there, and I asked if I could weigh Tonka on it. Dana said sure, but noted that alot of horses don't like getting on it. I told Tonka to step on, and he was a little surprised when it jiggle, but stood well. He weighs 1320 lbs!!!
As it turned out, we will need to have a custom made harness for him. Sort of figured that after the tack experience, but that's ok, because we intend to keep Tonka a "good long time". Dana told us the harness will be made by the Amish and it will take about three months to have it done. Which also works out fine, with the winter weather coming and my training to do.. we won't really be ready for the harness before that.
Dana offered Tonka a stall so that Ed and I could go up to the store and look around. I was happy about that, because our farrier, Dean Dalpe was there and we had a nice chat with him. We met up with a couple of other horse folks, and met a few new ones as well. It was a great day and the time zoomed by. We learned a lot about harnesses and driving and I can't wait for that first buggy ride.
The ride home went well. We got alot more rain on the coast than they did inland, so it wasn't too windy until we got closer to home. Tonka was happy to see his own stall and have some supper with Silver and the other horses. I was just so pleased with him and how good he had been on the whole trip. It was a big day for all of us.
So, the work begins. I need to work on my driving skills and Tonka's voice commands - which he is pretty good at already, but according to what I'm told, he needs to be excellent at. Dana has offered to meet up with us some afternoon and give us a lesson and pointers on what needs work, so I am looking forward to taking him up on that offer. I have been looking at different carts and drags, and think about the days ahead.... I'm certain to bore all of you with it as well.