Monday, July 2, 2012

Meet 'the girls'...

They’re big and buxom ... and of all the horses here at Paradise Ranch, Belgian draft horses Betty and Beauty are the two I’ve bonded most with. This glamorous blonde pair may be the largest horses here, but they are also the sweetest and gentlest, with impeccable ground manners and a willing nature under harness. 

Under the masterful hands of teamster Ed Olson, Betty and Beauty pull the haywagon up to the Chuckwagon dinner on Friday nights, transferring guests and crew up the hill. I had the privilege of riding shotgun with Ed last week, learning a little about driving heavy horses and watching these girls put their all into their humble job.
Although they look pretty much identical with their shiny taffy coats and blonde manes and tails, Betty - harnessed on the left - is slightly larger and stronger, pulling more than her fair share of the weight, according to Ed. From the driver’s seat, Betty’s shapely Beyonce-like ass rises a little higher than Beauty’s, who tends to be a little lazier and slower up the hill. Ed certainly has to work a little harder to make this lovely girl keep up with her partner.

As its name implies, the Belgian draft horse is native to Belgium and is the closest living relation to the ‘Great Horse’ that carried knights in armour during Medieval times. It is the most popular draft breed in America today, beloved for its flashy appearance, strength and calm demeanour. Apparently the world’s largest Belgian stands at 19.3 and a half hands, and weighs in at 2,400 pounds (that’s 2.02 metres and 1,100kg for my friends Down Under) - watch out for your toes with that one!
In my first week at Paradise, Betty and Beauty were an integral part of a wedding ceremony, transferring the bride and groom from the chapel to the saloon reception in a wagon labelled ‘just hitched’. Wrangler Tink and I braided the girls’ hair for the occasion, decorating their manes and tails with blue ribbons and shampooing their feathery fetlocks to make them look pretty; and gorgeous they were indeed, almost outshining the bride!

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