My husband Lowell decided that Saturday was the perfect day to take Doc and Dan, our two Belgian draft horse geldings, on their first outing to skid logs on a northern Allen County farm with other teams from the DeKalb County Horsemen's Association.
The association's members are owners and enthusiasts of draft horses, mules and ponies. They use their teams in the winter to drag logs out of the woods for property owners who've sold lumber and don't want their woods destroyed by heavy machinery removing the logs. Using horses or mules to pull the logs into an open field, where the equipment can be used with little damage, is environmentally friendly and good conservation practice.
And the fertilizer is free.
Doc, our tallest Belgian, is calm and patient but a little awkward, like the biggest kid in the seventh grade. Lowell, who stands 6-foot-3, can't see over his back. At 5 feet tall, I can stand under his head. Dan loves attention and is the pretty boy, handsome and graceful when he trots across the field – and he knows it. He holds his head a little higher when he thinks somebody is looking.
Doc and Dan haven't had much practice working together, so we worried a little about how they might handle this new task. Weighing in at more than 2,000 pounds each, they could be the Dynamic Duo of Disaster if they were spooked by snapping twigs, their own shadows, slipping in the increasingly heavy snowfall or anything else they found strange or frightening. Visions of them running off through the woods danced in my head.
The worry evaporated when the boys hooked onto their first log. Doc and Dan leaned into their collars and smoothly began to drag the log out of the woods at a steady walk. They actually seemed to like the work.
Too bad the snow wasn't that pleasant.