This post has been waiting to be finished since March of 2013. It began, as good ideas so often do, with a wonderful photo by Babs Young.
Those are Belgian draft horses, bred for strength (and also, I’m inclined to think, character). Good horses have played an important role Around Here for at least 150 years. They drew the sleds piled high with logs to the banking grounds. They pulled the stumps to clear the land for planting. They brought the mail stages over the first rudimentary roads. Every local history group in the North Country has a collection photos featuring excellent horses.
What with John Deere and Henry Ford there isn’t so much call for a fine team these days. Nevertheless, there are still a lot of good horses in Antrim County. For some of us, a place without horses is pretty much . . . unthinkable.
For as long as Hud Drenth can remember his grandfather, Floyd Black, had draft horses at the family farm in Charlevoix County. Here’s Hud at the reins of his grandpa’s team in 1968. What a thing it is to have that skill – and to be entrusted with such power and beauty.
Hud dreamed of owning horses himself, but the farm went to others in the large family, as was proper, and the dream was laid aside. He grew up and married and built a good life. He likes history, and has saved a remarkable collection of vintage books and journals about agriculture.
The Drenths have a nice piece of land, with a comfortable house and a fine barn. In the pasture, at last, are those Belgian draft horses. They win prizes at horse-pulling competitions, which are an impressive feature of many a fair. Hud wins prizes for horsemanship. The rest of us win because we get to have horses in the neighborhood. It’s a fine tradition.