This week’s “Informal Horse of the Week” is actually a pair of horses.
Caitie and Siobhan (pronounced “Katie” and “shovaughn”) came to us from an Amish farm back east, when they were 3 years old. They have the same sire, and their dams (mamas) are full sisters. We call them “sister-cousins”.
Capitalizing on the bonding nature of horses, the two have been together since they were born (as far as I know) and have worked together as a team all their lives. They’ve done everything from haying to carriage work, you name it. They are together so much that they even pee and poop at the same time. Seriously.
Caitie and Siobhan are “American Spotted Drafts”. This breed is mostly Percheron, which is a French draft horse, crossed with “something” to produce the spotted coloring. That “something” is usually a lighter-bred horse with color, like a paint.
The two are very different from each other. Caitie is a bit of a diva — proud, a bit stubborn, and I think she knows she’s beautiful. Siobhan is more of a mischief maker — good-natured and always into things. When working, they help each other out when things get scary. If something is bothering Caitie on her side of the hitch, she’ll lean against Siobhan for encouragement, and vice versa.
One of my favorite memories of them is last year when we took them to the park for wagon rides. I’d driven them in all kinds of situations — traffic, machinery, crowds — but wanted to be sure that they had time to settle in at the park. The rides were at night for a Christmas festival that was very busy with lots of light and activities. We drove up to the park and the organizer had us set up RIGHT next to some giant bounce houses! Most horses are pretty suspicious of giant bounce houses, or giant bouncy-noise-making-flapping things in general. Caitie was not the least bit impressed and was prancing around at the end of the lead rope, snorting at the bounce houses. Siobhan just stared at them, probably calculating whether they could support her if she jumped into one or not.
It didn’t take long for the girls to settle at all. Something about putting that harness on really puts them at ease, almost like a security blanket or a thunder shirt. We hitched them to the wagon and did a couple of dry runs of the course, with two “out-walkers” walking along next to the head of each horse for added safety.
I was so proud of the girls and how quickly they settled, accepting their crazy surroundings and cheerfully getting to work. We took around 300 guests for tours of the park that night — singing Christmas carols, warming themselves with hot cocoa, and watching the lighted boat parade on the river.
The girls LOVE baths and hate horseflies.
If you do a wagon ride tour with us — whether it’s dinner or a wine-tasting, or you’re here for our Christmas Trees — you’ll probably meet these two sweeties! Enjoy!