Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh, over the fields we go, laughing all the way! For many years on the Happy Trail Farm, my dad gave sleigh rides to friends and family members, using his big, black, Percheron work horses.
Even though the song refers to a one horse open sleigh, dad had a huge wagon, so he used his two favorite horses, Prince and Dan. The wagon was converted to a sleigh, so we would put bales of hay and straw on it and everyone would hike themselves up and find a bale to sit on and away we would go.
Dad had the best seat in the house, because he had taken an old bus seat and fastened it to the wagon, so he could sit up front and control the team of horses, trotting through the deep snow, while pulling a load of singing, happy people.
This is a picture of a team of horses that my dad had owned, prior to his passing in 2003. The horse on the right was very young at the time, but dad worked with him and he is still pulling wagons and sleighs, well into his twenties. His name is King. This was taken last year for our Christmas picture, and the lady driving the team is my mom. It was a great memory and extremely satisfying to be doing something again that my dad so dearly loved.
Happy Trail Farms currently does not have any black Percherons on the farm, but for Christmas this year, I gave my son a sign that read "Percheron Crossing." We both would love to see a team back on the land that dad spent so much time working with his horses.
While out on the sleigh ride, as the snow and wind would blow in your face, you would snuggle in a bit tighter to your neighbor and try your best to sing your favorite song a little louder, never wanting the ride to end. Depending on the weather, dad would take us out on a very long ride, telling stories all the way, or listening to other families share memories of growing up with horses or visiting their grandparents farm.
After about an hour or so, dad would bring us back to the toasty, woodstove-heated house, and mom would have old-fashioned hot chocolate cooking on the stove, made with fresh whole milk, straight from the milk house. And to go along with it, she'd serve her famous homemade cinnamon rolls for all to enjoy. The horses always had an extra bounce in their step when they were heading back to the barn. They knew it would mean a nice brush down, grain and hay, and everyone petting and thanking them for a great ride.
As we are in the midst of the winter season, here in Wisconsin, and while we remember all of the great memories from our past, we also look forward to creating new memories with old and new friends and family members alike. Check out all the wonderful winter wonderland flags, door mats and mailbox coverings at FlagsRUs.org.
Happy Trail Farms wishes you many opportunities for dashing through the snow, and if you are ever in the area, stop in. You may just get that ride from the big, black, team.
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