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6-17-09 004_edited-1-2
Shakedown Cruise


7-19-08, 7-20-08 - The First Voyage of the Horse-drawn Home.

Yesterday morning at 8 am I took off with a friend for a trial run and initial shakedown of the wagon and horses.  So far itís been a pretty good trip, a few minor rodeos, a lot of really nice people, a couple of minor incidents, a couple of disasters averted, a lot of learning and a really great time.

7-20-08 Shakedown Cruise Bob driving wagon 1

The day started off when the girls were hitched to the wagon and ready to drive at 8 am.  Pulling out of the driveway was a little rocky; the mares were feeling out the weight of the wagon, I was feeling out the brakes and we were headed down hill.  By the time we hit the street, the mares had settled down and started pulling.

The next 3 miles were nice and fairly uneventful.  While pulling up a hill on Rt 107, the team needed to stop and blow on a fairly good sized hill.  As I went to push the hydraulic brake, my toe must have closed the shutoff valve for the brake line. The mechanical brake cable had stretched and it was no good. So, we started rolling slowly backwards.  The savior the day was Joyce. She dug in her heals and pulled us out of the mess all by herself (the other two mares were confused and not pulling together.) About this time I looked down, saw the valve closed and restored brake line pressure - disaster averted.

About 5 or 6 miles into the trip, we stopped at the farm owned by Joyce Yeaton and her family. We had a great visit with some really nice people.  We stayed for about an hour.  When we left, Joyce Yeaton accepted an invitation to join us for the remainder of the trip.  Joyce was a great help hooking up heel chains (a chore she used to do for her father, years ago.)

7-20-08 Shakedown Cruise Stop at Yeaton Farm 1

After turning right onto Route 4, we started a two mile run down this very busy road. Lori, the photographer for the Concord Monitor met us about a mile down the road.  She would periodically shoot pictures of the girls and wagon for the next few miles.  While on this segment of the trip, some concerned but ignorant citizen decided that horses pulling a wagon constituted cruelty to animals.  The Northwood Police stopped us a little later on to inform us of this. The police officer was polite and agreed that no laws were being broken.

Shortly after this and about a mile short of our destination, we took a little shortcut cutoff.  There was a fairly steep hill on this road. I wanted to see how well the mares would do on the steep grade, this late in the day - it was a struggle.  After about 10 minutes, we finally made the hill. I learned two good lessons here; keep the wagon as light as possible, and donít push it at the end of the day.

Dolly threw a rear shoe while pulling on this hill.  I had planned to re-shoe her when we got to Philís place at the end of the day. To keep her from wearing down her hoof, we stopped right away while I put new shoes on her.

The rather poor condition of Dollyís rear hoof walls might limit the amount of future travel we can do (until she grows more hoof).  Iím going to talk to a farrier next week about getting some filler material for the hooves.

The mares were pretty tired when we finally reached Philís place on Long Pond.  As soon as I got them unharnessed, I put up about a 1/4 acre of electric fence and turned them out to graze.

I had to pull Dolly back in to finish shoeing her. Of course Dolly had to meet a few of the many folks that stopped by to greet us in the next few hours.

Itís now Sunday morning at about 5:45 am.  Weíll be pulling out at about 8 am. Before we go, Iím going to re-shoe Joyceís rear feet.

Phil and his mom Pearl have been great hosts!

7-20-08 Shakedown Cruise Girls Grazing with Lake
7-20-08 Shakedown Cruise 3 horse grazing
7-20-08 Shakedown Cruise 3 Folks on Dolly
7-20-08 Shakedown Cruise Phil and Mom