Winter-bleh! Carolyn McSparren

Doggoned Groundhog! He was definitely right on the money this year. At this point our roads down here in west Tennessee are semi-icey, tree limbs are falling, and the poor jonquils are blooming right up through the snow.
The thing is, I like winter. I have an excuse to stay home and read. Nobody tells me I need to get out and go walking when the wind chill is zero. The cats take root in my lap and complain bitterly if I move for any reason. The horses are well-blanketed and toasty, the water trough is full of heated water, they have two big round bales of hay to munch on and are contented. They don’t miss the exercise either. Whenever my friends talk about how much their horses love to work, I quote another friend of mine—one of the best horsemen I know—who says, “Yeah, but I never saw a horse walk into the tack room and stick his head in the bridle.”
Winter in the south is endurable. We don’t manage snow and ice very well, although we’re doing better than we used to with salting roadways and bridges. I lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a couple of years and discovered that southern winter is a whole lot different from northern winter. If you’ve seen Fargo, you get the idea. Down here we go from eleven degrees to sixty-five degrees in four days. By the end of this week, I should be able to get my carriage out and go driving, if we don’t get rain or snow.
For those of you who have never driven in a carriage, I recommend it highly. The next time you are in a city like New Orleans, take a carriage ride. Don’t worry about the horses. They are the most pampered creatures you can imagine. When they are off the driving rota, they generally spend their days loafing in a pasture. When they are retired, most of them resent being left behind when their buddies go down town to pull tourists around. I suppose that’s close to sticking their heads in the bridles. I think they enjoy the hustle and bustle. I do know that the mayor of New York is trying to outlaw carriages in Central Park. Has he bothered to find out what would happen to those big horses (who are fat and happy, by the way)? Ten to one they would wind up going to killers. That appalls me more than I can say.
My big old girl and my big old boy are my loves and my hold on reality. Doesn’t matter whether I’m sad or angry, no matter what the weather, they need food and water and medicine and love. And they give me so much in return. Hugging a horse is better than anti-depressants—at least for me.


  1. My father had a pair of work horses (I don't recall what kind: big and white) that he kept long after they'd retired. Dolly and Queen both lived to be near 30 and were pampered and loved every day of their lives. My relationship with Dad was problematic, but I do remember his devotion to those horses. They must have filled the well with him in a way that people could not.

  2. Carolyn, I can't recall where I read it, but somewhere I remember seeing a quote that said if you want a child to grown up to be caring, compassionate and understanding the value of work--get the kid a horse. And many ranches where teens are sent to recover from drugs or other negative behaviors have been successful to the point a lot of the kids don't want to leave the ranch or go back to volunteer their time. The weather reports looks like you'll get your carriage ride this week.

  3. Carolyn - in the summer we have a horse and carriage that come to Astoria for the pleasure of the tourists. The horse is a Belgian, huge and gorgeous, and the driver talks to him as though they've been friends for a long time. A ride in a carriage in this town filled with old homes and heirloom flowers really does transport you to the past. I hope you get to take your ride at the end of the week. Good to hear from you.

  4. Carolyn, I enjoyed reading your post. I've never driven or ridden in a carriage. Maybe I'll have that experience someday. Sounds like fun.


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