Garth and Luke, two giant Percheron horses, go together like salt and pepper. The gray Percherons even look the color of salt and pepper. Miss Manners says that salt and pepper shakers should always be passed together – it’s proper etiquette. The same goes for pulling a horse-drawn carriage; the two horses need to work together as a team.
Draft horse, work horse, heavy horse; all of these terms have been used to define the large horse bred known to complete heavy tasks such as ploughing a field or pulling farm equipment. But did you know that these gentle giants are also extremely patient and of docile temperament? The more svelte draft horses also make great pleasure riding companions out on the trail for the plus size equestrian.
I learned what it takes to drive a two horse hitch at Jackson Fork Ranch in Bondurant, Wyoming. Dallin Summers showed me the
ropes reins and the mechanics behind maneuvering a horse-drawn carriage. There’s more to it than it looks.
Team work between horse and driver is key. Yet even more important, the horses need to work together to keep control over the weight of the wagon. No where was this more evident than when I watched Garth and Luke descend a hill, with the wagon behind them. I was seated up front with Dallin who explained the logistics to me. The older horse was teaching the younger horse how to hold the weight.
Dallin also explained the different levels of control the bit and driving reins offered. Just like horseback riding, the lighter the hands on the reins, the softer the mouth of the horse – once again, team work at play.
Jackson Fork Ranch Percheron breeding program
We also talked about how the draft horse population was dwindling with the introduction of the gasoline-powered tractor and automobile. If not for the resurgence of horse shows such as Calgary, Canada’s Six Horse Hitch competition, the Percheron breed would be fading into the woodwork.
Thankfully, Jackson Fork Ranch owner Joe Ricketts fell in love with the Percheron horses when he watched them perform at a livestock show. With the assistance of Gerald Allebach, a well respected Pennsylvania horse breeder, Jackson Fork Ranch has created a successful Percheron breeding program of their own.
Lucky guests of the ranch are able to visit with the horses, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride on the Wyoming property, or a sleigh ride in the winter, and tour the Jackson Fork Ranch barn. The ranch also offers guests the opportunity to feed bison while staying at The Lodge at Jackson Fork Ranch.
If You Go:
The Lodge at Jackson Fork Ranch (866) 953-1290
670 Upper Hoback Road
Bondurant, Wyoming 82922
Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Percheron show photo courtesy of Jackson Fork Ranch. I was a guest of Jackson Fork Ranch, but all opinions and experiences are my own.