I'm reading The Perfect Horse by Elisabeth Letts. It's almost impossible to put it down. The story of saving the very valuable Arabian and Lipizzan horses held by the Germans at the end of WWII is a tribute to the powerful goodness in man. It was an impossible task. When asked why they had decided to save the horses, The American, Colonel Reed said, “We were so tired of death and destruction, we wanted to do something beautiful.”
His words speak to me at this time in my life. I don't watch television and I don't read the news or listen to it on the radio. I live in a rather isolated place. However, I do have internet, and friends keep me up to date on the happenings in the world. The human suffering, the destruction of our wildlife and our planet, the fear and depression, all of this and more are the dark clouds that surround me. I make an effort to smile and be friendly with everyone, to help when possible and to live life conscientiously but what else can I do? I have had a dream to build this traveling piece of art and to have it powered by a beautiful horse. The dream is coming true even though it was an impossible dream. I am often asked why?? The only answer I can give is that I just wanted to do something beautiful, joyful, and I wanted it to move at a turtle pace. Everyone seems to be moving too fast and so much beauty is missed. I am hoping that it will brighten up the darkness, even if only a little. As for me, this project has brought wonderful people into my life, it has strengthened my relationship with my husband and I have become stronger, healthier and happier. It has taught me to believe in miracles.
Someone stopping to chat at our rest place.
On our training trips, We always find a shady spot to brew coffee, douse Vanille and let her take a nice long rest, and just relax ourselves before heading home. Someone always stops their car to take a photo or ask lots of questions as well as share their experiences, or simply to chat. I love this! Some people will rush by, but I love that someone will slow down, even stop, and spend the time just to talk.
climbing a long hill alone. The men are walking to lighten the load.
For the past few months we have been making short training trips. Mark and I have had to learn the many facets of driving a horse. Each outing has brought a new challenge and we are becoming more comfortable in the driver's seat. Vanille, the lovely Comtois mare lent to us by Jean François is also learning. She is amazing! Huge trucks, buses, motorcycles, bicycles and cars who are in a hurry don't phase her. She is strong, intelligent, sensitive, and she loves to work.
Jean François has been a gift from heaven. The three of us are always together when traveling and he is a wonderful teacher. We could never have done this without his help. He is constantly researching and trying new shoes/boots for Vanille and the best diet for her since she has a tendency to be too heavy. His experience and research made it possible to find the best harness which has been perfect so far. When Vanille is resting, she practically sits on the back strap of the harness, all 750 kilos of her. Thank the Gods and Jean François that we bought the Zilco harness. We have used Easyboot New Trail on Vanille's front feet most of the summer and Duplo composite shoes on her back feet. We had some trouble with the boots turning so we now have the Duplo shoes on all four feet. This year has been about researching, learning and trials for everything.
Bella has become attached to Vanille and spends most of the day just “hangin'” with her. She makes a big effort to herd her and occasionally Vanille will galop off with Bella running beside her. This is such a beautiful sight! Most of the time though Vanille just ignores her.
As for the finishing work on Tòti, we are nearing a standstill until next year. The door is being built by a friend but the windows and fiberglas for the roof will have to wait until next spring. I'm so impatient to put the sunflower gussets up to hold the front roof, and place the stained glass window in the back, but I have to wait. The weather is changing, and we are totally out of money. We will finish next spring and hopefully take some long trips. I hope friends will come along….one at a time as weight is a huge consideration. Vanille must enjoy this as much as we do. We love her too much!
Once again, BRAVO to Mark for his building and engineering skills. He's also learning to drive and doing great. My hero!
If you want to join us next year, if you think the experience will be important for you, let me know.
If you have any questions, comments or a story to share, please send an email.