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6-17-09 004_edited-1-2
Latest Events


8-10-08 4-up 002

See ďWhereís Bob - Trip #3Ē for Latest This is the archive for trip #1 preparations.

8-10 to 8-13-08

Sunday, with the assistance of my friend Beth, we drove the 4-up hitch about 4 miles. Everything worked pretty good except Deedee was trying to hold back the pole between the lead team on down hills.

Monday was spent getting equipment from Meador supply (new bridles with side checks for Dollie and Joyce and some better line spreaders). I reconfigured the hitch to run without the pole between the leaders.

Tuesday I hitched them up 4-up without the pole for a 3 mile run. Everything worked real well, except Deedee didnít want to pull alongside Doc.  The team is MUCH easier to steer this way. I then hitched Joyce and Deedee together and they ran real well.

Today, I started off hitching Doc and Dollie together - they ran good for a 5 mile run.  Later this afternoon my friend Dave is going to help me with another 4-up. Dollie going up to the Lead and Deedeeís coming back to the wheel.

I wrote a new story for good friend and horsewoman Beth Sautter - ďLeaperĒ - Check it out under ĎYour Storiesí, I think youíll like it.

Four horses hitched to training wagon
8-9-08 4-up Beth Riding Doc

8/9/08 - Yesterday, with the help of my friend Bob, the wagon was rigged for 4-Up driving.

Started today with a ride. I rode Dolly, while a friend of mine took Doc for a spin.  Doc makes a pretty good riding horse. He enjoys it and is very smooth with all of his gaits.

My friends Lloyd Perkins and Dan Davis stopped over at about 10:30 am.  We spent about an hours harnessing up the horses and making adjustments to all of the harnesses. At about 11:30 we hitched the horses to the wagon. All of the hitches theyíve had in the previous weeks paid off, as they all stood very well through the whole process.

We initially started off with Joyce and Dolly in the Lead, but Doc was so willing on the wheel, we had to roll him up to a lead position. With his longer legs and quick step, he tends to pin the single tree of his teammate against the pole.  Iím going to chain his side of the evener to prevent this.  I started off only driving one team, while Lloyd drove the other, but graduated to driving all four. Great day - thanks to all my help! Hitching and driving again tomorrow.

8-9-08 4-up Sharing Driving w Lloyd better02
8-9-08 4-up Driving w Lloyd
8-9-08 4-up Overhead Horses

8-7-08 - I hitched up Doc and Deedee for a drive.  I stopped a mile down the road and picked up 94 year old, former professional boxer and horseman Bill (Curly) Smith for a ride to see the Deerfield tornado damage.

We sweet-talked are way through the checkpoint on Griffin Road.  The initial point where the tornado touched down was near the Vanberkum nursery.

Horses rear tornado damage

With a lot of luck and a lot of hard work by the staff and volunteers, the damage was initially much less then it could have been and mostly cleared up. In the distance, a huge swath of trees was missing at the point of touchdown. The path of the tornado paralleled road for the next mile as it moved north. A mile further up, it crossed the road as shown in the pictures. The swath of trees mowed down was about 100 to 200 yards wide.  Amazingly, several houses that were in the path, remained mostly unscathed. I turned the team by backing them into a driveway and started back past the large chippers that were chewing up the blown down trees.  Doc was a little nervous walking right next to the operating chipper, but Deedee remained calm and he fed off her calmness. This was an incredible hitch and covered about 11 miles.

Wagon Bill tornado damage

8-5-08 - I spent yesterday putting shoes on Doc and getting a harness for him.  This morning I harnessed Doc and Deedee to the training wagon and took them out for a drive.  The only thing I can say is - ďWowĒ.  This is one heck of a wagon horse. He started out a little hard on the mouth, but after about 15 minutes, he drove as light as a feather.

He works real well with Deedee.  Their stride is the same and they like working together.  I run her on the onside.  With the crown of the road, they appear to be the same height.

We first drove to my buddy Bobís place, then on to the grain store for a load of grain, about 7 mile altogether.


8-5-08 Doc & Deedee Harnessed
8-5-08 Doc & Deedee Pulling Bobs

8-3-08 - Today, I added the latest addition to the Wagonteamster team.  ďDocĒ is a 17.2, 1750 pound, 8 year old dapple gray Percheron gelding. I bought him from Skip Smart of Chester, New Hampshire. He originally came off an amish farm and had been used for the past few years for wagon rides, parades and for pulling at the fairs.

I hitched him up to a wagon with a red horse belonging to Lloyd Perkins and we took him for a couple mile ride.  Heís willing, well minded and stands well.  In conformation and attitude I canít fault him at all.  Heís good in the hold-back, picks up his feet well and has a kind eye.  About the only fault I could find is that he needs a heavy hand on the reins.  Half of that I attribute to him wanting to keep up with the Belgian.  He should go really well with a narrow snaffle bit.

Tomorrow, Iíll see if I can find him a harness. With any amount of luck Iíll team him up and start running him on Tuesday. Iím pretty sure heíll team well with Deedee at the wheel.  I suspect Iíll be running Joyce and Dolly as the lead team.

I think Iím going to take the advice of Lloyd Perkins and run a separate pole for the lead team, hinged off of the pole for the wheel team.  This is a safer arrangement for the horses and will allow me to adequately train them for their new roles in the next couple of weeks. Bob

8-3-08 Doc 023
8-3-08 Doc 009
8-3-08 Doc 017

8/3/08 AM - Shopping for a new horse continues.  Today, Iím off to see a pair of grays being brought over to the farm of good friend, Lloyd Perkins.  The plan is to hitch them separately with one of Lloydís horses and see how they work.  Hopefully, weíll have a good day. Iím also looking at a couple of other prospects.

Yesterday morning, I started the day by hitching both of my gray mares together and taking them for a drive. After about the first 200 yards they settled down and pulled real well together. Lloyd felt they were getting confused with the previous arrangement I had with the driving lines (I had been using check lines from the middle mareís hames to the inside bit of the outside horses).  He was absolutely correct. A much better way to drive three horses is with a set of team lines that each have two cross lines. Within an hour, I had them sidestepping and backing the wagon into a driveway to turn around.  This was a great hitch.

In the afternoon, I hitched Dolly and Joyce together.  A friend joined me and we went for an 8 mile drive.  We drove back to a very serene and secluded pond belonging to another friend (thanks Jeanne). A nice hitch (Joyce and Dolly pulled well together) and a very nice picnic.

In retrospect, the problems I had been having with the team, were primarily my own.  My driving line arrangement was confusing and Dolly was leery of banging her shin on the evener. Given a chance, the team will prove themselves smarter then the teamster.

7-29-08 Day 2 - Woke to a beautiful morning. After chores and breakfast, I took advantage of the round pen at the Davitís place to do a half hour of training with each of the mares.

Hitched up and started down the road.  A few hundred yards down the road, the mares balked at the first hill.  Getting out of the yard, Dolly banged her shin on Joyceís single tree and was concentrating more on staying clear of the single tree, then on pulling. I tried swapping positions with Deedee and Dolly, but the mares refused to pull, hitched in this fashion.  This is all a training problem, and one I could overcome, but I decided that with the addition of 600 or 700 pounds of supplies for the actual trip, I was a horse too short in horsepower.

So, weíre now back at the farm.  Iím starting my search for a fourth horse this evening. The plan is to go to a 4-up hitch (2 horses on the pole - wheelers, and 2 horse lead team - pulling off the front of the pole).  If I can find a horse right away, I should be back on the road in 2 or 3 weeks.  Iíll continue to blog through the horse selection and training process.  Bob

7-28-08 Day 1 00902

July 28, 2008 - First day out

I got off to a late start. It was 3:30 pm before the horse drawn home finally pulled out of Peaceful Acres.  The team didnít get very far, only about a mile down the road.  They were real balky, so I decided to pull into Bob and Candy Davitís place for the evening.

The morning was spent putting the finishing touches to the wagon and cleaning out and closing up the farm. 

The past week has been a non-stop marathon of 16 hour days trying to get everything done. My good friend Bob Burnor helped out a lot.

Off to a slow start, but a start none the less.

7-28-08 Day 1-6
7-28-08  Day 1 with Bob Davitt

7-24-08 - Here in New Hampshire, the rain continues to fall. Iím able to get most of the things done that I need to before I depart, but I havenít been able to paint the exterior of the wagon. Starting sometime tomorrow, there appears to be a couple days of sunshine in the forecast.

So, Iím going to have to delay my departure until Monday (7/28). Iíve just changed into my third set of dry clothes today, so itís time to go pop a beer and chill out for the remainder of the evening.

Shakedown Cruise, Day 2 - Click here to read a blog on the second day of travel with the horses and wagon.

Shakedown Cruise - Click here to read a blog on the first (test) day of travel with the horses and wagon

7-14-08 - During the past 5 days, Iíve hitched all three girls to the training wagon three times and weíve ran a total of 22 miles. Today was the last hitch with the old wagon. Tomorrow (after fishing) Iím going to transfer the pulling hardware over to the other wagon.  Thursday or Friday will be the maiden voyage for the WT Horse-Drawn Home.

Wagon construction is moving along. Except for the solar panel and the alternator, all of the AC and DC wiring is now complete and tested.  The inverter alarms when the refrigerator compressor first starts up, but seems to work fine. The dresser frame is installed.  Iíll finish installing the bench and table this week. Also this week, Iíll put in the front seats, emergency brake, two side covers, finish the bed area and put in the bed.  Next week is mostly painting and odds and ends.

The interview with the reporter today went well. She opted out of going on the training drive. The story should be in the Concord Monitor later this week.

12 days to go - itís actually all coming together -  who would have believed it.

The first day out on the 26th Iíll be driving the 15 miles to Carpenterís place in Pittsfield (he said something about needing his grass mowed).

7-14-08 Bathroom
7-14-08 Dresser Frame
7-14-08 Side Console
7-14-08 Console
7-14-08 Batteries Inverter

7-8-08 - Smiling Bob got a big boost of confidence today when he tried out his new shower and solar hot water heater. Not only was the water comfortable, it was hot!

As you might remember from an earlier blog, I was concerned that I might have skipped thermodynamics in high school to go fishing. Well, now I can safely say the class I missed was nuclear physics. (I think thatís why Iím having such a difficult time getting the horse manure fueled nuclear reactor in the wagon up and running).

In other news - the front console on the wagon is all wired - we now have lights and tunes. Iím ready to start finishing the interior off.

Next week Iím honored to host a local reporter and photographer for a training run with the three horses and the training wagon.

This weekend I rode Dolly for the first time.  I wasnít sure if she had ever been under a saddle, but It turned out to be a great ride.  A couple little crow-hop, feel good bucks later in the day (which I enjoyed as much as she did.)

7-8-08 smilin bob

7/5/08 - Quite a bit has happened in the past few days, more wagon building, more horse training, the house is now up for sale and of course more fun.

All of the exterior lights and wiring are now complete.  Iím working on wiring in the front console and then Iíll be insulating and closing things in.

I went riding with a friend a few days ago. Great time - we managed to get caught by a thunderstorm, but stayed pretty dry.

Went for a nice 10 mile training drive with all three horses yesterday. The trip started off fairly uneventful, but got a little more exciting a few miles down the road.

First, the team were driven around the paddock a few times, then I hitched them to the training wagon.  This next picture shows the pole evener that connects the horses to the wagon.  I shortened and lengthened the heel chains so that each horse should be walking about even.  Of course, Joyce still wanted to walk a half step in front of the other two - you canít fault a willing horse.

About 2 1/2 miles out, we were on Rt. 107 and encountered a little fun.  Hereís the break down - 3 drunks with an unfenced draft horse grazing in the yard - the result - ďA RodeoĒ (I love rodeos)! As we came abreast of a house, there were 3 people in a yard with an unfenced, gray percheron mare.  As all three of the people had started their 4th of July celebration early and were pretty plowed, the mare decided she liked our company better then theirs.  So, she started trotting down the road with my team. A drunken man, clad only in a pair of shorts, caught the mare by the halter.  Still not wishing to go with him, the mare slowed down in front of my team and tried to have the man get run over.  When that didnít work, she proceeded to drag him down the road on his knees. The excitement didnít end until a passerby stopped the mare and a drunken lady ran up with a lead rope. - I Love America!

7-4-08 Driving in pasture
7-4-08 Evener
7-4-08 Down the road with three02

6/28/08 - Real Training - In the next few pictures you can see the mares starting their final training for the trip - 3 abreast. In the first shot, Iím putting them to the pole for a hitch.  I ground drive them around the back of the wagon, putting Deedee across the pole.  Then the team has to be backed up about 8 or 10 feet and settled down so theyíll stand for hitching.  You can see Joyce can be a handful, but she eventually settled down.

In the next two shots the mares are driving down the road pulling the training wagon. A friend and I took them on a seven mile jaunt.  Once they started, they actually drove better 3 abreast then they do in pairs - I guess they just like each otherís company.

The 3 horse, pole type evener from Pioneer Equipment Co. actually worked much better then I thought it would. All the horses had to pull an even load and none of the mares had any rubs on their legs from the pole or the harness tugs. 

A great day!

6-28 Putting 3 to thepole
6-28-08 Driving 3 from wagon
6-28 Driving 3 and me wagon
6-25-08 Plumbing 001

6/25/08 - The plumbing for the wagon is finally complete.  Most of the construction in the past few days has been on building and mounting the solar hot water heater and on finishing the plumbing. 

You can see what happens when the task is assigned to a former nuclear power plant worker. The result - ďA systemĒ.

I brought all the valves out to a valve tree at the back.  That way I can fill and vent the hot and cold water tanks, and bypass the cold pump and run off of the pressure in someoneís house via a hose connection (Iíll carry 150 ft of hose).

6-25-08 Plumbing 002

Iím hoping the solar hot water heater works okay.  I didnít get it filled until about 4 pm today as I had to fix a couple of leaks (Iíll find out tomorrow). If that first shower is a cold one blame it on the fact that I skipped a couple days of high school physics class to go fishing.  The heater is a 7 gallon black tank (vented) thatís built in an insulated hot box behind a thermal pane window.

6-25-08 Plumbing 004

Here you can see it mounted on top of the wagon. Itís painted in the cream color that Iíll use to paint most of the wagon. It brings my overall height to 12í 6Ē (no low railroad bridges for me).

Everybody have a great week!

6-25-08 Plumbing 009

6/23/08 - This past Saturday, I started the day working on the wagon and ended up with some horse training. A friend came over and we first hitched Deedee and Joyce for a couple mile jaunt down the road. Next we drove all three abreast for about a half hour in the pasture.  Fabulous day!

The plumbing on the wagon is nearing completion. Today, I finished building and painting the solar hot water heater. If we have good weather Iíll install the heater and finish the plumbing tomorrow.

Ainít life good?

6-22-08 3 abrest
6-19-08 Finished Kitchen02

6/19/08 - The last few days have been busy and good. On the wagon construction, I finished the kitchen - except from some paint, receptacle covers, and latches for the cupboards.

The shower is finished off with cedar (it sure smells good).

The roof vents for the blackwater and drains are in.

The 120 V electrical is just about all in.

The wiring for the hot and cold water pumps is in - you can see the switches for the pumps on the outside wall of the bathroom in the top picture,

Iím getting a lot of nice E-mails and guestbook entries from a lot of people - thanks a lot, I really enjoy it - even the poodle comments.

Today I put shoes on Joyce.  I did a nice little picture story of it for the kids page.  If you want to see it, click on this link: Horseshoeing.

6-19-08 Finished Shower
Bottom view hoof with new shoe02


Today I harnessed up Joyce and Deedee for a 3 mile jaunt down the road.  Every thing went real well.

I should have got the old heart pipe cleaned out long ago.  It used to knock the wind out of my sails to shoe a draft horse, now it doesnít bother me at all.  I figure Iíve been clogged up for at least ten years.

Everybody enjoy their weekend!

6-19-08 Deedee joyce tied to wagon
6-19-08 Joyce Deedee drving on road

6/14/08 - A beautiful day today. After running around for the normal Saturday chores, I had to put a couple of nails in Joyceís rear shoes to tighten them up a bit (Iíll re-shoe her next week).  Then, I checked and cleaned Deedeeís feet in preparation for a nice trail ride with a friend. 

We took Joyce and Deedee on a 4 mile ride through the woods. We tried to stop for a picnic lunch, but the mosquitoís decided to veto our idea of a picnic in their territory. So we had to wait until we got back for the picnic lunch.

The past couple of days have seen quite a bit of work done on the wagon. The kitchen is nearly complete, as well as about half of the 120 V electrical and the plumbing. Iíll post some more pictures of the wagon next week.

My health is unbelievable. Now that I donít have a clogged coronary artery, (which I probably had for the past ten years) I feel like a million bucks. Right now Iím limiting myself to only picking up a hundred pounds at a time, but I should be completely back to normal in a few days time.

6-14-08 005
6-14-08 010

6-10-08 - With my reduced activity level for the next few days, everyone around the place has had to chip in with the chores.  Naturally, the horses volunteered to mow (and fertilize) the lawn! I thought that was mighty considerate of them. The last big wagon piece came by UPS yesterday - a 3-horse evener for use with a wagon tongue. This is the device that interfaces between the heal chains for the horses and the wagon to pull it down the road.  Itís suppose to be a hot day, so everyone stay cool.


6-8-08 Update - The cardiologist doesnít believe I had any permanent damage to the heart muscle.  Iíll be taking it easy for the next couple of weeks, but I should be pretty much back in the saddle after that. I now plan on departing the last week of July.  This will allow me to get things done right before I leave (especially the horse training) and I can do it at a more relaxed pace.

6-5-08 -  Big Delay on starting the trip! Yesterday, while taking the team on an 8 mile training drive. I was periodically getting what appeared to be acid indigestion. Well, as it turns out, it was angina instead.  When it didnít go away 20 minutes after taking anti-acids, I had a friend drive me to the hospital. After about an hour, they decided I had had a mild heart attack. The right coronary artery had a 95% occlusion, restricting blood flow. They did a quick angioplasty and inserted a stet, opening up the artery.  I figure this will set back my scheduled departure anywhere from a month and a half to two months.

I guess Iíll just have to relax and do a little fishing in the mean time!

Latest Events Archive - 5/17/08 to 6/03/08