Your Turn: Putting the horse before the cart

A total stranger asks, “I have a horse, a harness and a carriage–can you help me attach them to one another?” Emboldened by a few glasses of wine, Susan Corwin said yes.

From Susan:

So, I met a lovely young man at a fundraiser for “Best Buddies,” a charity that my husband is on the board of. Now, for some strange reason, almost all of my conversations lead to at least some mention of horses. (Looking for common ground/something interesting to talk about?) And as luck would have it I found just the conversation I was looking for. It turned out that the young man’s family was in a bit of a conundrum.  Seemed they purchased a horse carriage that happened to come with a horse and harness.

It was quickly clear to me that no one in the family had any idea whatsoever how to attach these three mysterious objects to each other. They had been informed that all the parts were indeed there. So after having a few glasses of wine, I confidently assured the nice young man, Levi, that I would be more than happy to come to their farm anytime to attach Ralphie, harness and what I assumed would be a small, modest cart.

Now, being at a party with an open bar, it didn’t take long for Levi to admit that the most Ralphie had done in several months was when Levi thought it would be fun, late one night, to hop on said steed bridleless and bareback. His description of the trials and failures of mounting still makes me giggle. But somehow he got on and lived to tell. It has been at least seven years since I have driven, but after hearing this, I knew I could handle it. No problem! The fundraiser ended with my name and number safely in his smart phone as well as a new Facebook friendship.

Much to my surprise, within a few days Levi contacted me and was ready for me to come show them how it’s done! At this point (less the wine) I thought I should get more info. I asked for some pictures of Mr. Ralphie and of the “cart.” Well, what I saw made me tremble just a bit. Not because I didn’t think I could do it, but because I never driven a carriage so beautiful (and in my guess-timation VERY expensive, gulp!). But after talking to Levi’s stepmother, Elizabeth, I was reassured to know that she had a cart as well… phew!

When I got to their amazing farm, family in tow, I had it all planned out. I would test drive Ralphie in the (I’m sure must be less valuable) cart. After having a brief conversation, we all made our way to the barn. I introduced myself to Mr. Ralphie. One look in his deep, kind eyes, a good hug and I knew we would get on famously.

OK, with some relief about the quality of my engine I made my way into the carriage house/barn/garage to meet my vehicle. I went to check the harness that was in a pile on a bale of hay. I was relieved at how quickly I could figure out how it went together… just like riding  a bike.

It was all there except the reins, but fortunately a new member of our posse, Christian, knew where they were. Lastly to check on my “test cart.” Everything was going so well, I never saw this coming: First, let me tell you a bit about Ralphie.  He is 17.2-hh on a short day, the width of two “normal” horses put together, with feet the size of dinner platters. Now, let me tell you about my “test cart.” I am pretty sure one half of a “normal” horse wouldn’t fit between those shafts. Gulp! After quickly doing the math I decided I did not have a test cart.

Steeling myself and mustering fake confidence that would win me at least an Oscar nomination, I pulled Ralphie out. I had him harnessed faster than an Amish late for church (nerves will do that) and before I could think, I had all the mysterious objects correctly attached. In I jumped and grabbed the reins. My passengers, Levi and Christian, hopped in, and off we went.

Now, apparently Ralphie has only been driven on flat surfaces. We were not on a flat surface. Feeling bold, I asked Ralphie for a nice trot to impress the boys. Well, as soon as the very elegant vehicle (that had little suspension) started bouncing around, making monster sounds, poor rational Ralphie tried to run away. After mere seconds I managed to calm Ralphie and the two screaming men in the back seat. We decided the driveway would be better.

Once on calm water, I was amazed at how well Ralphie knew his job and pleasantly surprised how a really good driving horse can not only make it look easy, but actually feel easy! Around the farm we went, all afternoon, stopping only to switch out passengers.

It was a fun day, wonderful people and the best horse ever!

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