The past few weeks have been filled with family, friends, love, laughter, and surprises. I wonder if Leo is enjoying these moments with us. I often think of him and what his reaction would be. We could never have known, that evening a few years ago, when the discussion began of turning my dream of a gypsy wagon into reality, just how magical it would all be. Leo, wherever you may be, thank you for erasing my fears and pushing me to do it.
October 23, 2015 saw us hitching up Vanille, the Comtois horse that I love, to Tòti Bleu. My daughter Ashlyn, granddaughter Sailla, Caleb, and Natasha were here from the states. French friends joined us as well. It was not planned that our first trip with Vanille would be at the same time that these very special people arrived.
We were very nervous! After all the months of building Tòti, we didn’t really know how it would handle. After the months of Vanille taking us on trips through the forest pulling a small sporty wagon, we didn’t know how she would react to Tòti or if she was strong enough. Jean François is very knowlegeable and very careful so I knew he would do everything properly. Vanille has had careful training and proper work to keep her in shape. Mark has studied the housing of Tòti carefully for months. He has done everything possible to make it strong and lightweight, but at the moment of truth, the stress built.
When Vanille first saw Tòti, she took a few seconds to study it and then we carefully hitched her up, Jean François took the reins, climbed aboard and Tòti rolled away pulled by this beautiful golden horse. It seemed that Vanille was as excited as we were. She was impatient to start and even broke into a little trot going down the lane. Tòti pulled extremely easily, and turned in a very tight radius. Coming home, everybody climbed aboard. We were seven people rolling along a sun dappled lane. Every moment was perfect, just perfect.
The following day two extraordinary things happened. Jean François offered to let Vanille live in our pasture and pull Tòti next year. We will also continue travelling the forest trails with her pulling the small wagon. AND, then, a generous friend from long ago offered enough money to cover the expense of harness and collar.
Tòti Bleu is still a work in progress. Windows and door, fiberglassing the roof, installing the bed and kitchen area, attaching the sunflower gussets and the other seat, paint and decoration must wait until next summer to be completed. Autumn leaves are drifting down, winter is threatening, fires must be tended and we are tired. I look forward to spending time this winter with Vanille and dreaming about where we will travel
Vanille had her carrots, we hitched her to the small wagon, and took her home for a shower and run in the pasture. When I took her halter off, she gave me a nuzzle and took off at a gallop. Obviously not a very tired horse. We came home for a glass of champagne and excited conversation.
Here’s the link for the short video of our trip on Youtube. Take a look and enjoy it as if you are there.