“Just look at that!”
Whatever was in my hands and lap was thrown onto the floorboards of the van. “Stop, please!!”, came the over-excited request from me, ” Let me out!”
Fanatic, passionate, over-excited or just plain crazy. That adjective I will leave to you. All the same, I was out of the van and quietly jogging up beside a jolly-looking fellow driving a team of gorgeous Belgian horses on a country dirt road in Vermont.
“Excuse me,” I said quietly, not wanting to startle the driver or the 3,500 lbs or more of the team of horses he was driving. They had blinders on, so I knew to move slowly and quietly.
Sitting comfortably on an old school bus seat (he told me that what it was), attached to an iron sled, he quietly pulled the horses to a stop. The one nearest me turned his big head towards my voice. When he saw me, I was confident they would not startle.
“May I pet them?”
“Yep,” came the reply of the jolly man whose name was Larry.
They were happy for a stop, and delighted to be admired and petted. Spud, the ‘old’ man, is thirteen years old. He is the teacher to Ben, the three year old youngster. Facing the team from the wagon, the experienced/teacher horse is usually on the left, the young/student horse on the right. Larry kindly answered all our questions, and then I just had to ask, ” Is it possible you could give us a ride on the sled?”
To our utmost joy, Larry said, “Yes!” I sat beside him on the seat, my older twin sisters stood behind and took photos, and asked more questions. Our friends stood in the road and took more photos.
Larry drove the team up a hill and down another road. He stopped at one point to let the horses have a rest. We switched riding so all could have a turn.
Larry said he was training the team for pulling contests, that is why they were pulling the iron sled. He has been driving horses since he was a small kid. His father worked his entire farm with horses, they had no tractors. Driving on the road requires great attention in case the horses get spooked and watching for cars around corners in the middle of the road. Great care is given in training the horses so they behave in public. Just like little kids they learn quickly what they can get away with. If allowed to get away with bad behavior they will try again, and sometimes grow even worse in bad habits. Spud and Ben were perfect gentlemen.
It seems every work horse I have ever met has a one-syllable name. I have to quote the answer because it made me smile, “I think all the horses we have ever had had short names…guess you don’t want to be hollering long names.” Well, that settles that.
Larry and his wife, Betsy, own Sugarbush Farm Maple & Cheese Farm in Woodstock, Vermont. They have farm fresh cheese and maple syrup. Call them at 802-457-1757, find them on facebook, or