Rolling Along

As with any project, the start-up after months of non action is challenging, and Tòti has been sleeping in our neighbor’s garage for months. We brought her home thinking that summer was just around the corner, but as always, Mother Nature had a few surprises up her sleeve. She threw hailstorms, days and nights of wind, lightning, and torrential rain upon us. Enormous black clouds darkened our days, and the gusts of wind blew everything away that was not securely fastened down. On the days that we could do something outside we walked around in circles trying to decide where to start, and searching for tools that were put away last autumn. Waking up every morning to a grey wet dripping world was depressing. We were ready for summer weather!  Now, at the end of the month, the sun is brilliant, the sky is a bright blue and the rain has washed away all obstacles and opened up a treasure chest of happiness.

Thanks to Jean François’ expert help, Vanille is now wearing very beautiful brand new Zilco harness from Australia and a collar from My Draft Horse in Ohio. This is a huge leap forward! It was a big investment, and for months I had no idea where the money would come from…but my angels provided. Fitting the harness and collar was far more complicated than I ever imagined but I just followed the advice of someone with years of experience and watched while he adjusted everything and patiently explained each piece. We also ordered another swingle tree for the wagon. Thank you Mr. Szymanski for sending it so fast. The old one was too short and caused the traces to cut into Vanille’s sides. I still need to order a pad for the sellette and new traces.

On Sunday we went out for 1 1/2 hours at a walk and trot on our gravel lane and the paved road. Vanille had not been worked since autumn and we were amazed at how easily she pulled Tòti. Mark has done an amazing job of constructing an extremely lightweight housing. We were four adults in Tòti, and Vanille volunteered to break into a trot as if there was a feather behind her! I had the fun of driving for a while and managed to do a big circle successfully. The months of caring for her have developed a true friendship between us. I feel it when I am driving and also in our day to day relationship. I can give her very quiet voice commands and she listens. We are so very happy with Tòti and Vanille!

So far we have not put traditional shoes on Vanille. We watch her very carefully. The veterinarian came today for her vaccination. She also x-rayed her front feet. This is required for insurance but it was the perfect opportunity to have more information. The veterinarian’s advice is to continue keeping Vanille barefoot and have boots for her front feet during the transition.

Vanille does have a weight problem and this is a problem!


She had a nice shower after her trip on Sunday. She loves this!

The more we read about natural hoof care, the more sensible it sounds.  The internet is full of good information but Making Natural Hoof Care Work For You by Pete Ramey is a great book.





About Suzanne

American living in France. Artist and lover of nature, gardening, all living beings. Married to the love of my life, mother of two wonderful daughters and grandmother.
This entry was posted in Art, barefoot draft horse, Community, Comtois horse, Gypsy wagon/Roulotte construction technique, Horse drawn vehicles, Lifestyle, Small living spaces, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rolling Along

  1. Wow! Vanille is looking splendid!!!! I will come up to see her soon! xxxxxxxx

  2. N2 says:

    Love seeing you out and about with Vanille and Toti. Dream coming true ❤

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