Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Belgians of Hat Creek Ranch ... My New Friends

I hear the stagecoach, so I grab my camera. This time is has to work. It just HAS to work.

It's the fourth time I've tried to take a picture that shows how close the old-fashion stagecoach gets to our motorhome. Feet. It passes within FEET at least twice a day. And each time, my camera has failed. Bad batteries.
I want this picture for another reason, too. The Belgians harnessed to the stagecoach befriended us. Well, sort of.

We met the massive horses (2,400 pounds each) on our first day here at the Historic Hat Creek Ranch, a tourist area, really, where adults play make-believe to show kids and other adults life on a farm in British Columbia 150 years ago. As we walked the dogs past corrals and pastures that day, I saw four Belgians out in the field and just whistled "hello."

Two ignored my welcoming; two others, however, galloped up the hill to visit us.

What a sight! These are massive horses, easily standing five feet taller than either of us (to the tip of their ears). Their muscular legs end in pie-plate sized hooves covered in hair that dances about as they prance. They stretched their massive heads past the barbed wire to sniff us. I patted their muzzles. Scratched behind their ears. The dogs ignored the experience. I fell in love.

So because of that walk, and the friendliness of those horses, and my heart, I want to take their picture. And that's why I've run out for the fourth time when I see the them coming.

The stagecoach driver (the same one all these times) takes pity on me. And stops the team. "Want to get a picture?" he asks the obvious. Of course, I feel compelled to explain my odd behavior, to tell him about my bad batteries. He just smiles at my story. And keeps the team still.

We then introduce ourselves, and it's my turn to smile. He's Fergus and the horses? Arthur and Hobson. Solid names for loyal subjects of the Crown.

Fergus says this is the final round of the week for Arthur and Hobson. Soon they'll be turned out to pasture for a few days off.

And as I finish writing this tale, I hear the Belgians' throaty, gusty neighs, so I turn to look. And I see them gallop through their field, with their heads high and their tails and manes twisting in their breeze. Home from work, I see. Their weekend begins. And I think they know it.

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