I always wanted to have a horse and cart. The idea quietly thrilled me. Whenever I would catch a driver and his trusty mare in a movie or documentary part of me felt a tiny ache. It seemed like the perfect pace to take part in the world. Slower than a car, faster and gentler than a country stroll, and unlike seeing the world on horseback you could bring along a few friends and pack a picnic lunch as well. What could be a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in pleasant (or even snowy) weather? Only two problems with this dream. First, I didn’t own a horse or cart. And secondly, I had no idea how to drive a horse and cart. This does not a teamster make…
I came to the section called British Ponies, the native herds of the northern dales. There I stopped turning pages, shocked at the beautiful animal before me. The horse was called a Fell Pony, but this was no birthday party ride for toddlers. This pony looked like someone took the awesome power of a parade draft horse and compacted it to the size that someone like me could hop on the back without a stool. The Fell Pony had a shiny black coat, a long mane and forelock that reached all the way to its nose and feathered feet. They were powerful, but short, and since I consider myself the same I decided that would be my dream horse. The Fell Pony, what a thing!
Well, I ended up taking that Fell Pony home to Cold Antler Farm, my little piece of this world. His name was Merlin and I didn’t dare change it. He was in his late teens, but well broke to saddle and harness. He was a dream come true, and I worked with the seller to make him mine. And over the last two and a half years I have learned to drive and ride that wonderful animal. We have become the picture I once only saw on movies and television, a happy duo making their way to the local farm stand to pick up some provisions for that night’s meal. We’ve explored and ridden all over this mountain, with the luck of having neighbors who allow us to ride on their property and over their snowmobile trails in the summer months.
Want to see how Merlin and I harness up? Here’s a YouTube video.