Progress on Tòti seems slow but when I sit down here to write, I can see photos and words of our progression through the months. It helps to see that we are making progress steadily.

I have found a better hat since this photo was taken but I am so proud that I can successfully drive Tòti and that Vanille listens to me and responds perfectly. Ridiculous hat included, I love this photo. I still make lots of mistakes but I'm doing it! I can harness her up easily now. I remember last year when harnessing seemed so complicated to me. There are many details to learn if the job is to be done correctly. We are constantly checking the adjustments.

Our forest is being destroyed for money. It is very sad for me but it is a forest that was planted to be harvested and the trees have come of age. This photo shows just one stack of logs and there are many!

We go for our training trip every Sunday morning to avoid the logging trucks. These double trailer monsters terrify me. Each Sunday we travel a bit further. Usually our trip lasts from 2 to 3 hours on dirt, gravel and blacktop roads. Not only is it a learning experience for me but this is a new job for Vanille. We are testing the brakes (which had to be adjusted several times), the harness, and the boots on Vanille's front feet. Her feet are examined each time before putting on the boots and afterwards as well. She has developed her most comfortable walking speed which is 3.5 to 4 kmh and today she easily trotted on the flat and uphill at 14 kmh, with an extended trot of 17 kmh. We stop midway for her to rest, checking her breathing and dousing her with cold water even though she is not sweating. The evening and following day I make sure there is no swelling or heat either on her shoulders from the collar or her legs and feet. There is no problem with the boots, I think they are wonderful. There are many models available but hers are Easyboots New Trail. She is doing great. What a gentle, generous, powerful horse she is!

Here are the two men who have made my dream come true. Mark, the builder, engineer and the love of my life. Jean François, our wonderful friend, who brought Vanille into our life, is constantly teaching me and helping in a hundred ways and who has diligently studied horse collars and harness and boots so that we have great equipment. What a joy it is to enjoy these moments together!

Chatting with our friends on the road towards home. Vanille has no fear of cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles or dogs. This will be very important when travelling. She is unflappable.


We've made progress on the interior of Tòti. The galley is finished. We don't plan to have a sink. I will use an old fashioned dishpan which can be used outside as well. I have memories of washing dishes in a stream long ago and how I loved that moment. We have a campstove which will sit on the folding part of the top and the worksurface is plenty big. We still have to make places on the wall for plates, etc. Water will be stored underneath.

The bed is finished but I am working on the quilt cover. It's very comfortable and there is a large storage area underneath.

I get up very early on Sunday mornings to feed Vanille. I love having lots of time to brush her, check her over and dress her up a bit. The time I spend with her every day gives me energy. There is nothing quite like the day to day close relationship with a horse.


We have made a lot of progress in the past couple of years, not only on Tòti, but working together to bring this project from dream to reality has brought another wondrous element into our relationship. The work is not finished. There is the roof to fibreglass, the windows and doors to do, the front seat to build and the floor to paint. Our weather window is very short and we don't have a proper workshop or tools. But it's happening!




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.

9 Responses to Progress

  1. N2 says:

    Look at you, a dream coming true! You and Mark have done such beautiful work. Jean-Fracois has brought the lovely Vanille into your lives and helped with training. And Vanille seems to be liking her new role pulling the roulotte. I am so happy for you all. x0 N2

  2. I am loving the progress of this amazing project and seeing the magic from afar. Bravo to you all – Vanille, Suzanne, Mark and Jean-Francois.

  3. Bruno says:

    You are becoming a real gipsy….!

  4. Suzanne says:

    Thank you soooo much!

  5. jimboat says:

    A wonderful post and how beautiful everything is!!!!!!! I love it and I am so proud of all you have achieved. Yay!- Mark and Jean-Francois for their dedication and work too. I am cheering you all on. Tell Vanille I miss her too.

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