Archive for October, 2009

What a Little Rain Can Do

amywink October 12th, 2009

Lisa and I were determined to drive this weekend. We’d been on hiatus for over 2 weeks with high heat and then rain, rain, rain. This past week, she’d gotten over 6 inches of rain but we decided if nothing else, we could drive on the her road. So, out we went and had a great day. And we came home with evidence on our wheels:

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And here’s what the rain also did:

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All that green is the native ground cover called “Horse Herb” or Strangler Daisy.

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I have no idea why it’s called Horse Herb except the horses do find it tasty. It has tiny yellow flowers and bright green leaves and you can now buy it–or wait until it comes up in your own yard. If anyone knows why it’s named Horse Herb, please let me know. I’m curious.

The rain also made a nice new obstacle in our driving pasture: a water feature!

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So I started to teach Will to go through water. He didn’t much care for it but each time we drove by, we got nearer to the water and he didn’t try to bend sideways. Lisa got Windy to trounce through several times so I’m sure we’ll get Will to go in at some point! He did very well for facing a water hazard for the first time though.

Despite the mud, it was great weather for driving, almost chilly but not unbearably so. After this summer, it was wonderful to pull out my cool weather driving clothes and get going again. Unfortunately, the rained returned on Sunday and we didn’t get to drive with our Morgans. Maybe next week.

Test Drive

amywink October 7th, 2009

Today, I took a test drive of Sweetie, my friend Anna’s donkey. We’re preparing to participate in the LongEars Playday at Haven Hill this coming weekend. Anna will be driving her new Missouri Mule, Miss Millicent (Millie for casual wear). Sweetie is a charming standard donkey who I have only driven once before so we did want to practice before the Big Event.

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She’s quite different to drive than my Corvette Morgan but very pleasant in her own way. I can see just moseying down the road with her at a nice slow walk or a pleasant jog. I enjoyed my test drive quite a bit and came away with a big grin for our efforts. I’m looking forward seeing how we do over the weekend and I am looking forward to meeting Miss Millie for the first time!

Another Rainy Day

amywink October 3rd, 2009

So, I planned to get down to see Will this morning but as I checked the radar around 8:30, rain was heading toward us and it hasn’t stopped all day. We’ve had almost an inch of slow, steady rain. I know we need it but I’d like to drive soon!

So anyway. Plan B: Put together the dash assembly.

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It’s not quite finished because I have to paint some bolt heads (carefully because I am not undoing this!) and place the rein rail on (after it’s completely on the cart). I also need to attach the swingletree straps. I wrapped the swingletree with the same marine vinyl I used on the seats and I’m pleased. For the straps, I’m going to use some material from a set of synthetic reins I don’t use. The stabilizer bar will attach to the crossbar in the front–you can see the bolt holes in front.

As I stapled the vinyl to the swingletree, it dawned on me that I probably needed to do the shaft trim before I get the cart entirely put together–otherwise, I’ll be flipping the cart to staple the vinyl on, or stapling upside down!!

During all this assembly, I keep thinking of my favorite episode of M*A*S*H, when Hawkeye and Trapper have to defuse a bomb while Henry Blake yells the instructions to them from a safe distance. After he shouts the instructions to cut one of the fuse wires, and the pair does, he shouts out the all important “but first. . . . ” Hopefully, I won’t come to some part of this cart and think “but first….” after something is completely finished!

But, I am pleased with getting this section put together. The next large section to put together is the floor!

Chinese Chariots, Horses, & Harness

amywink October 2nd, 2009

Today, I went to Houston to see the Terracotta Warriors Exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and as I was hoping, the exhibit contained one of the lovely terracotta horses and both chariots , which can also be seen here. I have no photos since cameras were not allowed but there are many photos available online. They are definitely worth finding if you can’t make it to Houston or Washington DC to see the exhibit up close.

The final room of the exhibit held the objects I was most interested in, being the carriage nerd I am, and I spent most of my time pouring over the bronze horses, 4 abreast, pulling the chariot and the 4 pulling the “enclosed” chariot. These horses were about half the size of the “life size” cavalry mount but equally beautiful and carefully crafted, with slight differences in each horse’s face–different wrinkles in their eyebrows and nostrils–and whimsically curved forelocks that curled in front of their ears.

The curved pole of the chariot was attached to a V-shaped yoke that rested on both middle horses necks, right above the withers, about where the neck strap holds the breast collar on a modern harness. I don’t know how well this would have worked with real horses, certainly a great lot of padding must have been required for them to bear the weight of the center pole. Each horse had a neck strap and girth, as well as a decorated neck strap with bronze “dots”. The two outside horses were harness to their inner partners with straps, and an odd little cone of bronze on the harness of the inner horses kept the outer ones from bumping into them–I imagine a real horse goosed with that and it’s not a pretty picture!

The bridles were alternating bronze tubular beads and the flat reins, made of bronze links to simulate the leather, stretched back to the charioteer’s hands, which were precisely sculpted in the correct position to hold the reins. The inner horses’ lines ran through loops on the yoke as well as the the outer horses’ inside lines, though their outside reins draped loose. The horses’ tails were bundled into a knot, around which another strap was loosely wrapped and attached to the girth. This seemed designed to keep the horses tails from getting over the reins! The right outside horse wore a plume but they all wore a similar plume dangling from the throat latch.

Both the chariots were two-wheeled carts, riding as high as a Meadowbrook, on spoke wheels. The chariot actually looked quite a lot like a regular village cart–with a square body and slanted edges that served as fenders– and sported a large umbrella covering the standing driver. The closed chariot was covered with a curved top as well. I do wonder about the “chariot” designation since both look far more like “carts” than the chariot I have in my mind–something riding much lower. Still, the driver stands in one, and sits in the other. And I suppose “chariot” sounds much more Imperial than “cart”.

It was a very interesting exhibit, at least from a carriage driver’s point of view!!

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