With the boys in town, just south of us for a county fair, I finally got a chance to meet Sparky, and handler, Kat, in person. They certainly didn’t disappoint! Sparky was every bit as charming and charismatic as he was in our interview, and Kat was a wealth of knowledge about the hitch and all things related.
We arrived early, while breakfast was being served, and the first of several room service rounds were being made. As David parked the car, I went inside their temporary quarters to look for Kat, and in the process was greeted by a very excited Clyde, the Dalmatian. We met Kat, and she walked us down the aisle, introducing us to all the horses. At the final stall, she opened the door, and allowed me to step inside for a visit… ahhhhh… heaven! You never know, when meeting high profile animals, just what’s permitted as far as actual contact, but in this barn, it was my day! I walked right up to a giant, still munching the remains of his grain, to hug and pet, and breathe in the delicious horsey smell. It took me immediately back to my early 4-H days with our first club advisors, and being allowed to handle their Clydes and Shires. They’re towers over you, but so very aware of the small, two-legged animals by their sides.
While they finished eating, Kat took us outside to show us their fleet, comprised of three tractor-trailer rigs, emblazoned with photos of the horses. The first was the hitch and harness trailer, climate-controlled (at least, most of the time, she joked), laid out to match the order of the horses. Enormous red, glossy show wagon in the back, and glass front display/storage cases for each set of harness; wheel team (closest to the wagon), swing team, point team, and lead team. The harnesses are wiped clean after each use, and polished spotless before the next.
The other two rigs haul the most precious cargo, the big boys themselves. One, a six-horse straight load, the second a two-horse that also stores and transports their portable stalls and decor. These trailers are cleaned out for display as well. I even got to climb up into the drivers seat to check out all the dash equipment, including a monitor to watch the horses in the trailer. All handlers have their CDL’s, so they act as team drivers as well. Nothing is done by half-measures here.
We headed back inside and pulled a still blanketed Sparky from his stall. He was content to stand quietly in the aisle while I fussed over him, and found his good itchy spots. We posed for some pictures, then sadly, it was time to say goodbye. While I wrapped things up, David wandered to take a few more photos for me. As he was trying to get a good shot of the AB logo embroidered on one of the horse’s sheets, another was in stealth mode, snaking over the top of a stall wall, to carefully try to pull David’s hat off his head, without David taking notice, at least, he hoped!
The hitches all have busy travel schedules, but you have to make time to see them live, whenever you can. We all need to take time to be in awe of such lovely, warm-hearted, and ornery souls. While they’re at the Fairfield County Fair this week, there are plenty of opportunities to see them resting and working, don’t miss it!