I suddenly begin to understand the difference between a master and a novice.
Well, that’s about it,” George says as we finish unharnessing his team in the new stall of my barn. We’ve just driven the horses back from his place about three miles away. Until this trip, driving horses has been a dream unfulfilled. After Kathleen and the boys dropped me off this afternoon, George and I climbed on his wagon and started for our place.
George makes driving look so easy and natural. One hand on the lines, slight movement here or there and the horses gracefully turn the corners. Once out on the open road he hands me the lines. I suddenly begin to understand the difference between a master and a novice. George’s quiet hands are replaced by this beginner’s learning hands. The serenity of a horse-drawn ride is replaced with the nervous excitement of starting to learn a long-desired skill.
Patches, the paint mare, is a three-year-old who has only been harnessed for the fourth time. Coffee, the palomino mare, has a foal less than a month old alongside of her. She’s more experienced and has been used to train other horses. A three-mile drive isn’t a very long crash course, but here we are; they are unharnessed and George is going home.
My favourite quote about horses is from Ray Drongesen, the late Oregon horseman: “The more I work with horses the less I know and the easier it gets.”
Looking back 3-1/2 years later, I’m glad now that the little bit I know about horses I didn’t know then. I’m not sure I would have had the nerve to start.
– Tim and Kathleen Freeman farm with draft horse power at their farm in Wakopa, Manitoba.