Back before cars and tractors, horses were used to pull carts, wagons and farming implements. They were a part of everyday life and were work horses helping to plow, plant and harvest fields. Nowadays, almost all farming is done by tractors and machinery and the days of horse drawn plows are far behind us. But a few small farms still keep the history alive by using horses to help with farming. My sisters and I had the amazing opportunity to to visit one of these farms and take a few driving lessons with their huge Belgian Draft horses!
I didn’t realize quite how big these horses were until standing next to them. They towered well above my head with feet the size of dinner plates and the size of their head was unbelievable! I have no idea where you would even go to buy a halter big enough!
Our first lesson we spent the afternoon learning the different parts of the harness and how it all fit onto the horse. I was shocked how heavy it was and I admit I was pretty clumsy my first time throwing it all the way up onto one these huge horses. We finished the day by ground driving and learning the cues you use to drive. It was incredible how these horses responded to vocal cues, for instance to ask the horse to walk forward you would call the horses name, in this case “Bill” and say “walk on” and he would walk! Not only that but you could tell the horse to turn by saying “Gee” for turning to the right and “Haw” for turning left. If that wasn’t amazing enough you could tell the horse to take a single step with a specific foot, for example if you said “gee step” the horse would take one step with his right hoof. Marissa and I were blown away with the huge horses!!!
The next lesson we started learning how to drive the sled with a Belgian named “Bell”. Bell was so much fun to drive and she was so gentle and laid back.
We eventually started to drive a team of two horses named “Duke” and “Linda”. I expected driving two horses to be very complicated but the horses worked so well together and Marissa and I had an amazing time driving two crazy powerful horses!
The experience was incredible and I look forward to learning more about draft horses and driving in the future! These horses were unlike any other horse I have ever been around. They had such easy going demeanors and even though they were huge I didn’t feel intimidated by them. They truly were gentle giants!