Rococo Grooming the Sleigh Course


Getting the Sleigh Course Ready

Mystic Valley Farm and Rococo, Oldenburg mare,  have been working the sleigh course. As seen in the image. This is the farm's first year offering a one-horse-sleigh ride so we have been spending time understanding what needs to happen to make this service available. 

Horse drawn snow groomer
Early unusual snow conditions, extremely light and not very packable snow, combined with extreme wind, created difficult snow for grooming. The original course was altered, shortened, so the sleigh trail could be adequately prepared. The high wind really blew the light snow around and created super hard packed snow drifts. Even the farm tractor when plowing the driveway would drive over the snow before breaking thru, causing difficulties for snow removal. The sleigh course had the same challenges. 

The sleigh course needs to be packed. This allows the horse to travel with out struggling and move faster across the snow. Plus the sleigh ride is more enjoyable. Even working the sleigh course with a snowmobile did not pack the snowdrifts in. So, using an ice breaker tool by hand, the drifts were chopped up and stomped in with snowshoes. Fortunately, there are only a few areas that get bad. Not the entire course!
The question becomes. How did they use sleighs in the olden days? Well, in this area the primary horses used for sleigh travel were heavy horse teams or draft horses. Plus everybody else was traveling by horse drawn sleighs or wagons. This packed roadways for sleighs and made travel easier. When things got real bad the old timers put snow shoes on their horses. Back in the 1920s Steamboat's local Doctor Willet travel by a one horse drawn sleigh to care for patients, even in the dead of winter!

The other challenge has been finding insurance. Most of the quotes I received made more sense not to offer the service at all and just save my money. I was having a hard time understanding why horse drawn sleighs or vehicles are perceived as such a huge liability? Honestly, driving a car is more dangerous than riding in a sleigh. Unfortunately, it appears that horses have gained a reputation of being "crazy" or something. Driving a car at speeds that a horse could never reach, against apposing traffic, in all kinds of weather conditions, sounds way more crazy to me than taking a horse drawn coach. 

The soothing part of riding in a horse drawn vehicle is the slow down. Horses move in real time you might say. Sure they can go faster and pull much heavier loads than we can but only for limited times. The sleigh steps you back in time and brings you close to nature. I hope you will enjoy the ride.