Ponies Thunder Through Farm Show Carriage Races

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Dana Bright (left) and Ann Gardner ride in the
Pennsylvania carriage racing competition.  

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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
January, 2008

Like a modern-day Ben Hur, Miranda Cadwell drew herself erect in her chariot-like carriage and urged her ponies to speed around obstacles.

Rambo and Toby, a pair of Welsh ponies, raced around the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex Large Arena this past January.

They sped around eight barrels, being careful not to knock off the rubber ducks on top, and around eight raised wooden structures at the other end of the arena, leaving the ducks standing.

Then they galloped down the home stretch into first place and into the hearts of 6,000 wildly cheering fans at this unique equestrian event at the 92nd Pennsylvania State Farm Show.

“This was great,” said Cadwell of Southern Pines, N.C. “It’s a real adrenaline rush.”

The Farm Show offers the nation’s only indoor Arena Carriage Racing, said Paul Martin, event organizer and announcer. He said that its usually done outside.

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These Dutch Gelderlanders, “Mickie and Janet”, driven by Ronda Palmer and navigated by Roy Munt, placed second in the Pair Horses division. The husband and wife pair has been involved in numerous competitions all over the world. 
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Drivers sit in the front and control the reins to guide the horses. Navigators ride the back, throwing their weight from side to side to counterbalance the turns.

Bruce Rappoport, another event organizer, said carriage racing involves one or two horses or ponies racing against the clock.

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Sarah Schmitt and Glenn Haskell achieved the second best time to win the Reserve Grand Championship.
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Participants in steel marathon carriages use special harnesses to guide the horses through the tight turns needed to navigate the obstacles and hazards in the fastest time.

Seven teams participated in the two day event.

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Driver Dana Bright and navigator Melinda Russell
blur through the starting line.
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“We love this,” said Dana Bright of Felton, nodding at her navigator, Ann Gardner and her Welsh ponies.

People laughed when they saw Ben and Jerry, a pair of bright pink stuffed toy pigs, on the back of their carriage. People howled when Jerry tumbled off during the race.

The crowd clearly loved Miranda Cadwell and her younger sister, Keady.

Miranda Cadwell last summer became the world leader in the sport, earning the gold medal at the World Pony Driving Championship in Denmark.

On Tuesday, she drove her team as if her life depended on it, leaving rushing air and flying dirt in their wake.

When the race ended, Miranda Cadwell won first place in the pair of ponies division, Keady Cadwell won first place in pair of horses.

“We push each other to do better,” Keady Cadwell said.

A must-see is the video listed below.

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Race Video:  
Carriage Races, Pennsylvania Farm Show

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News Link:   Pennsylvania State Agriculture Site

News Link:   The Patriot News

 

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Winter Scene: Laughing All The Way

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Winter Scene: Over The Fields We Go

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Winter Scene: Dashing Through The Snow …

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Belgian Horse Team Delivers White House Christmas Tree

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“Karry” and “Dempsey” with driver, Scott Harmon

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A matching team of Belgian horses delivered the official White House Christmas tree to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday, Nov. 26, to kick off the holiday season in the nation’s capitol.

The 20-foot-high Fraser Fir was delivered on a four-wheeled wagon driven by Scott Harmon of Meadow Acres Farm in Brandy Station, North Carolina.

Midge Harmon’s team of Belgian draft horses, “Karry” and “Dempsey”, and her son Scott personally carted the 20-foot Frazier fir tree from a drop-point downtown to the White House.

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This is the first time Harmon’s horses have been invited to deliver the official White House Christmas Tree.

“What an honor this was,” Midge Harmon said. “This is probably the biggest thing for a team of horses to be invited to do. I’m really proud and it was always a dream of my (late) husband”.

Harmon’s horses were selected by the White House to deliver the tree earlier this year after they provided hayrides for a congressional picnic on the White House grounds.

In the past, Oxen Hill Farm has traditionally handled the White House Christmas tree procession. However, this year they were not available.

Since the Harmons have trained Oxen Hill drivers and horses for the past 25 years, it turned to the Harmons to pull its wagon this year.

In preparing “Karry” and “Dempsey” for delivery of the White House Christmas tree,  the horses were washed and braided and turned out in full formal harness.

The manes were braided with green and red “flags” that rise above a French braid along the crest of the neck, and the tails were done up in a “Scotch knot.”

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Midge Harmon adorns Belgian draft “Kerry”
after braiding the mane.

The harness were outfitted with sleigh bells, and the black harness itself was polished and every brass buckle shined.

The Fraser Fir tree, so huge that it spilled off the wagon front and back, was bedecked with a big red, white and blue bow. The tree was a gift from Mistletoe Meadows Christmas Tree Farm in Laurel Springs, North Carolina.

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As Laura Bush stepped onto the Portico to accept the special delivery she said, “We’re thrilled that this beautiful tree…is going to be here in the Blue Room.

As Bush admired the 19-year-old evergreen,  Karry and Dempsey waited patiently behind her, nonplussed by photographers’ flashbulbs and television lighting.

“They’re used to all the excitement,” Midge Harmon said of Karry and Dempsey.

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The business provides wedding carriages, festive hayrides and town festival entertainment, and all the farm’s horses are quite serene, even in the excitement of a city street. “They know their job,” she added.

As soon as Bush and Mistletoe Farm owners Linda Jones and Joe Freeman stepped away from the wagon, Midge Harmon stepped in with teamster David Yauch and daughter-in-law Susan Harmon to unhitch Karry and Dempsey from the wagon.

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Shafts unhooked, Scott Harmon urged the pair forward, leaving the wagon and tree for White House staff to unload, and returned to the Harmon horse trailer parked a few blocks away from the White House.

The tree had been shipped from North Carolina via flatbed trailer.

Harmon and his horses met the truck to make the “old-fashioned” delivery, far more romantic, Harmon said, than having a tractor-trailer pull up to the presidential residence.

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Midge Harmon, with her family, grandchildren
and Scott Harmon attending the Belgian Team.

Harmon’s Hayrides has been in operation for 37 years, first in Centreville, and for the past four years in Brandy Station. Harmon owns five teams of Belgian horses, providing hayrides for up to 120 guests at a time and formal carriages for weddings and other events.

Midge Harmon said that all five of the teams will be hard at work to kick off the Christmas season.

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The tradition of placing a decorated tree in the White House began in 1889 during the presidency of Benjamin Harrison.

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Link:  Harmon’s Belgians

Photographic Credits:  Chris Greenberg, Joyce N. Boghosian, Katie Dolac, Scott Harmon

Fort Sam Houston’s Caisson Section Pays Tribute to Fallen Soldiers & Veterans

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 A horse-drawn caisson slowly rolls toward a burial site
at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery

It could be an old man who lived a full life. It could be a young man who died too soon.

Better not to know, they say. Do your job, do your best to pay tribute to them.

“This husband, this son has earned the right to have a caisson funeral,” says Sgt. Jason Baldwin.

“We get to take them to their final rest.”

Baldwin was riding Hall, a 22-year-old veteran of these ceremonies, a horse that knew without being told the route through the painful beauty of Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, with its bright white headstones, to the burial site where the soldier’s family waited.

Fort Sam Houston’s is the only full-time caisson section in the country other than the illustrious Old Guard at Ft. Myer at Arlington Cemetery.

It doesn’t share the same high profile, but it has the same charge: to convey departed soldiers to their final resting place in a rite with deep roots in military tradition.

In this age of modern warfare, there is something comforting in the fact that the Army still has a need for horses.

On this day, when the hearse arrived, the men straightened up in their saddles, their backs erect and their faces grave. The horses shifted their feet and arched their necks, sensing their job was about to begin.

Baldwin trotted out on Hall and saluted as he passed the hearse, then turned to face the caisson.

A six-man military honor guard removed the flag-covered casket from the hearse, gently carried it to the caisson and secured it to its bed.

Baldwin swung Hall around and began to walk. The caisson moved forward.

There was a rhythmic clop-clop-clop of horses’ hooves, jangling of the harness chains and creaking of wheels as the caisson section made its steady, solemn progress.

When the group arrived at the burial spot, the honor guard removed the casket and carried it to the bier (elevated platform).

The caisson moved on. There would be taps and gunfire and a eulogy, but the men on the horses wouldn’t be there for it. Their job was done.

If there is one thing the soldiers of the Fort Sam Houston caisson section are sure of, it’s that what they do has a place in today’s world.

“This is not a regular job, this means something to me. I’ve been to Iraq, I know what happens,” Baldwin says. “I love being able to give honor to those who have fallen or have returned and done their part.”

The Army itself even changed the lyrics of its official song from the original “And the caissons go rolling along” to “And the Army goes rolling along.”

But at Fort Sam Houston, nine soldiers, eight horses and a stable master make sure that a caisson does still roll — for those who served their country and those who paid the ultimate price doing so.

Horse and Carriage Show Displays Old Time Elegance

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Once each year, during the second week in August, the picturesque Pittsford, New York countryside comes alive with the magic and romance of an earlier era – a time when the Horse and Carriage reflected the quality of life and influenced the pace and scope of occupational and social activities.

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It was a time when the Horse and Carriage were elevated from a simple means of personal conveyance to a portrait of their owner – a social commentary as to profession, personal taste, and character.

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It was a time when the Horse and Carriage were elevated from a simple means of personal conveyance to a portrait of their owner – a social commentary as to profession, personal taste, and character.

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It was the last decade of the 19th century.

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In an attempt to recapture the essence and spirit of the 1890’s, the Pittsford Carriage Association annually hosts The Walnut Hill Carriage Driving Competition.

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This international celebration of the art and sport of traditional driving in held in a 19th century country fair setting on the commodious grounds of Walnut Hill Farm in Pittsford, New York.

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This living showcase of Americana presents a unique marriage in modern day equine sport – that of combining the pageantry and beauty of exquisitely turned out equipages with the excitement of demanding competition.

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The comprehensive five day schedule of classes offers spectators the opportunity to view a wide variety of 19th century carriages exhibited by over 250 competitors from some 20 states, Canada, and Europe. This year included an exhibitor from Australia!

 

Walnut Hill Farm

Budweiser Mule Team

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Budweiser Mule Team ~ Chicago, 1953

Denmark’s Jutland Horse and the Carlsberg Brewery

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Also known as the Jydsk Hest (Danish)

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For many centuries heavy horses have been bred on the Jutland Peninsula, Denmark which gave the breed its name. During the 12th century strong, heavy horses were in great demand as war horses.

In the Middle Ages the strong, most willing Jutland was popular with the heavily armoured knights.

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During the 1860’s the English Suffolk Punch stallion Oppenheim LXII stood at stud in Denmark.

The breed became the dominant influence on the Jutland right down to the chestnut coloring. Cleveland Bay and Yorkshire Coach Horses were also used in the development for the breed.

Jutlands were in demand for farm work and pulling heavy loads. 

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Beginning in 1928, there has been a close association between the Jutland breed and the Carlsberg brewery which uses Jutlands to haul brewery wagons.

At one time there were 210 Jutland horses with Carlsberg and today about twenty are still used for beer transportation in Copenhagen.

The Carlsberg horses take part in many shows, festivals and films, promoting both the breed and the brewery.

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The Jutland is a medium-sized draft horse with a quick, free action. Like the Suffolk, the coat is usually chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail, and the breed’s connection with the Suffolk is evident in the compact, round body, the deep girth, and the massive quarters.

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There are also individuals within the breed which are black or brown but they are uncommon. In one respect, it differs entirely from the Suffolk, for the Jutland‘s legs carry a heavy feather that is not found in the former.

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The joints on the Jutland are inclined to be fleshy. The forelegs are short and set wide apart. They are coarse of feather on the lower legs. The withers are broad and flat.

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The neck is short and thick and they have heavily muscled shoulders and exceptionally broad chests. The head is plain and has a squared muzzle but is not unattractive.

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The breed has a reputation for being docile, kindly, and a tireless, willing worker.

Link:  About Denmark’s Jutland Horse

The American Dream