Just before our first “arctic blast” of the season, we ventured up hills, down dales, and around bends into central Connecticut. There, we stepped back a century and a half for a wagon ride around Lake Hayward. Connecticut is known for its picture-postcard lakes, and this was my first chance to spend time by one.
Motors (as on boats and jet skis) are prohibited on this lake, so our ride was a placid one. Plus horses have the right of way, so cars pulled over, often on quite narrow, one lane roads. Nice. Nice people, nice place, nice day. Quite different from how it must have been when a rubber mill, not cottages, dominated the banks of the lake.
The work horses pulling our ten-person wagon were Norwegian Fjords–beautiful dun-colored, stout workers, with distinctive markings. Can you make out the the beige mane with its black-striped center? That stripe continues down the horse’s back and into the center of the tail. Like an artist carefully drew a very straight, black line dividing a tan field.
Billy and Bobby are brothers, one year apart in age, who work well together, nodding and bobbing their heads, nuzzling each other, as if talking. After all, they clearly knew the way, so didn’t have to concentrate that hard.
They didn’t seem to be working hard either, taking the up-hills at a perky trot. Turns out, our driver explained, that they actually push the wagon, via a collar belted across their chests, making their load easier than if they had to pull it. Physics at work. I also always wondered why carriage horses wear blinders. Turns out, the blinders keep horses from seeing the wagon behind them, which would continually startle these ‘flight’ animals with wide peripheral vision.
Along for the ride was Petey, a tiny rescue dog, who looked very much like Toto. Petey has settled into life at Allegra Farm, even wanting to pitch in and work. He’s been known to grab the lead rope of the work horses, and they are just fine with it, happily following along.
As cooperative and pliant as they seem, Norwegian Fjords are apparently feisty and have a bit of an attitude. One time, Billy objected to a farrier (aka the blacksmith) who accidentally slipped while fitting the horse with a new shoe. In a huff, Billy chased him up the barn stairs. Plus these horses have a long memory. So don’t get on their bad side!
We certainly didn’t. Prepared with apples and carrots, Billy and Bobby got their post-ride rewards. And for us, the rewards came with the crisp fall air, picturesque scenery, and a slowed-down way to enjoy both. Good fellowship and residual autumn colors only added to this quaint idyll of a day.