Jenna has been writing a lot lately about horses and, most importantly, driving horses. It made me think of the time I got to drive a horse, and I thought I might share that story with you.
When I was about 10, I was in the Horseless Horse 4-H Club. Sounds silly, but for horseless horsey kids like me, it was our only way of being around people who like horses and the horses themselves.
For a club trip, we all went to a local Percheron Breeding Farm. It was like an open house day- they had trinkets for sale, their barns were open, and they had draft horses hitched to carts for you to “drive.”
When you would get into the cart, the driver would show you the ropes, and then you might get lucky to drive for another round around the arena… if it seemed like you knew what you were doing, that is.
When I clambered into a big white and red buggy, I was shocked at how huge the horse was. A gleaming golden Belgian, his mane perfectly show-braided, standing regally and sedately in place.
I was incredibly nervous, and I shake when I am nervous. All at once I felt calm, calmer than I ever had felt before. The experienced driver, a bulky man who looked meaner than a wet cat, was waiting for me.
I remember him handing me the reins, telling me to flick them slightly and holler a “gidyep” and the horse would take off, in a brisk trot.
The horse’s knees would touch his jaw, they were lifted so high. His blackened hooves gleamed like obsidian, and the way the sun reflected off of his coat made him look like he was made of melted gold.
On our way back to the starting point, I felt elated. High-as-the-sky kind of feeling. I had kept a massive horse in check, or as least as well as a 10 year old girl with no experience can.
I remember getting off the buggy in a daze, surprised at how big the horse was from the ground… I had driven that horse?! I was allowed the chance to stroke the horse’s nose, and then scoot out of the way for the next girl to drive the dream.
I’ll never forget the feeling. Although I haven’t really been around horses since, a collection of models grew on my shelves, gold ones, black ones, bay ones, and gray ones. I don’t have a big golden Belgian yet, but the day I do, I hope he’s a live one.