Since bringing our new boys home, we’ve been working hard to find ways to keep them working. We have been testing them out in different environments, gradually working our way towards going all the way to town. Recently, we accomplished one of our final obstacles–“the” bridge. We have a rather long, roughly 1/3 mile, bridge between us and a major highway that then takes us into town. The bridge not only has that hollow bridge sound (which horses don’t generally like), but it has low concrete barriers overlooking the drop off into the river. The asphalt changes color about 3 times as you cross the bridge (which horses don’t like), and there are 3 large, metal expansion joints as you across.
The day finally came to try. The first time, I went alone in the wagon–just in case. To be extra safe, S actually drove in front of me, just in case the team spooked, he could do…..something…to keep us from being run over by a semi should they run right into the main highway. As it turned out, though, his services weren’t needed. The boys couldn’t have cared less about the bridge. The different surfaces caused them to do a double take, but that was about it. The expansion joints were the only thing that got their attention, but once across, they recovered and walked as if nothing had just happened. We crossed the bridge, turned around, and went back across to go home. On the way back, however, the sun was at a different angle, reflecting off the joints, which really concerned the horses. Nonetheless, we made it with only a bit of hesitation.
The next time we went, we decided to go further, and actually drive up the main highway a bit, before turning off to go to a local park. Again, just in case, I drove alone until we crossed the bridge. S met me on the other side, where he and the kids jumped on board. We took a trip to the park, where the horses (and I) got to practice waiting patiently while the kids played. Rule #1 of driving horses is to NEVER let go of the lines, and rule #2 is to stay on the horse-drawn vehicle whenever the horses are hitched. Should a hitched horse spook, you can’t outrun them, but as long as you are on board and holding the lines, there is a good chance you can prevent a spook from getting out of hand. So, that’s what we did. Only they never spooked. And frankly, I rather enjoyed myself.
Finally, we headed the 2 or so miles back home, with hardly a hesitation at the expansion joints. I expect the next trip will only get better.
One day, when we actually have a 1/2 day to spare, we will actually drive to town. We just haven’t figured out when that will be. The only thing stopping us is our lack of free time to do such things. It’ll come, though. Our list of big projects is winding down, so hopefully sooner than later.