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Jan. 20, 2021 | Wednesday
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Ross' Ravings: Horse and carriage go together like love and marriage
Dannie and Jason Jamieson from Oakville got engaged last December in the Just Christmas shop on Queen Street.  For a COVID-19 getaway this winter, they returned to NOTL for a spa weekend and a horse-and-carriage ride. (Ross Robinson)

Carriage drivers will donate a portion of revenue to Newark Neighbours from Dec. 21 to 29


Ross Robinson
Special to The Lake Report

Who are we to argue with famous crooners like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore? The theme song of "Married ... with Children" reminded that a carriage needed a horse to pull it. Listen to some of the simple lyrics:

Love and marriage, love and marriage,
They go together like a horse and carriage…
This, I tell ya brother,
You can’t have one without the other.

Read the lyrics again. Yes, from years ago, and naturally our thinking has changed ... Let’s try to understand the thoughts of others.

During COVID-19, I have had some interesting conversations with people in the NOTL horse-and-carriage business. Horses have been instrumental in the development of our modern societies. Each horse provided one horsepower.  Now, one muscle car can have a macho 425 horsepower engine. Or am I wrong?

Well-trained horses helped us win the First World War and lumberjacks needed them to operate lumber camps. Canal horses pulled ships through our Welland Canal. How about building our railroads, and the Budweiser Clydesdales delivering the King of Beers.?Royal Weddings in London? Not without spectacular open carriages, pulled by highly trained, handsome horses.  

Our RCMP Musical Ride! I have seen it four times and each time my heart swells more.  

But I digress. Stay with me. I am providing context for this meaningful local story.

The horses pulling carriages in our town never dreamed about winning the Queen’s Plate or the Kentucky Derby. They are not thoroughbreds, not lean and fast, not bred to race.

Our clip-cloppers have been domesticated for thousands of years. They are bred, not a wild breed. Today, draft horses are in less demand, as tractors have taken over on the farms. Time marches on.

These gentle giants are strong and willing to work. Ben, my favourite NOTL horse, is 16 now, ”working part-time in his retirement job.”  

Before this gig, he laboured as a plough horse on a Mennonite family farm. Now, Ben lives on five acres of yummy land, in a herd of six other horses. He is a leader, patient, kind and firm. Happy, well-fed, good vet service when needed, and a dry place to sleep and relax. 

These draft horses need to work to stay healthy. Pulling a carriage is easy work for them. The carriage horses in NOTL are respected and loved.

To earn their keep, they help to make beautiful memories for visitors to our historic village.  Why do so many people love a horse drawn carriage ride? It is slow, quiet and calming. An iconic link with the history of NOTL, where thousands of horses were readied for overseas service in faraway wars.

The carriage Ben pulls is driven by Ronda Lincoln and was creatively decorated for Christmas by Emily Mays. She owns the classy and unique shop called Spade and Sparrow on King Street, next to Balzac’s. A determined entrepreneur, with a mostly local clientele.

Now, in keeping with the spirit of giving, even during these challenging times, NOTLers have a win/win/win opportunity to  enjoy a wonderful outdoor activity. From Dec. 21, the winter solstice, until Dec. 29, two of our friendly horse-and-carriage drivers will continue to “give back.”  

Ronda Lincoln and Don Herron are offering to raise funds for Newark Neighbours. So, between Dec. 21 and 29, enjoy a ride on Ronda's or Don’s carriages. They will donate $15 per ride to Newark Neighbours.

Let Ronda explain why she enjoys driving a carriage in NOTL. “I love meeting people and I love animals. This job combines the two and it gives the horses a meaningful purpose. Some children are seeing a horse for the first time, and learning a bit about the history of transportation. Often, an anniversary., In one case, 71 years!  So special.”

So, NOTLers, I have said my piece. Times change. Thanks for reading this story. Merry Covidy Christmas.

Bring your COVID-19 bubble buddies and enjoy a physically distanced, win/win/win horse-and-carriage ride.