Saturday was the Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) annual Sleigh Rally. Weather plays an important part in holding this event and this year was no exception. Part of the rally had to be postponed until this weekend but many hardy souls ventured to Woodstock, VT despite the sub-zero temps and biting wind.
I had never attended before and was thrilled to pack up my camera and extra batteries. I was joined by my friend, +Mary Iselin, an amazing artist with a keen eye for beauty. We traveled back roads to get there and marveled at the mountains and farms along the way. Mary suffers the same lack of “left/right consciousness” as I so whenever we got to a decision point on the road, she would point left and say “take this next right”. I never stopped to question her.
The website had said the first class would begin at “11am SHARP”. We pulled into the last space along the fence with a perfect view of the field. About a dozen trucks and trailers were parked to the side and the activity level was low and relaxed. As Mary and I climbed out of my truck a blast of arctic cold wind hit us. I had thought to throw my two ancient raccoon coats in the truck before I left then decided “Who wears a fur coat to a sleigh rally?” Silly me! It looked like a scene from “Clan of the Cave Bear” there were so many fur coats, fur sleigh rugs and such.
The horses were gorgeous, some sporting a trace clip to aid in dissipating their sweat. The sleighs stood ready; shiny black, forest green, flashy red; some double hitches most single, all impeccably restored.
Mary seemed to know everyone there and all were friendly and welcoming to me. I wandered around warming up my shooting skills and talking with the contestants.
Finally, an elderly man with a clipboard appeared and began calling names for the first class. For the next two hours, drivers and horses navigated the slick field as I framed and clicked my way to photographer’s bliss. My favorite class was the “Currier and Ives”. Though only one lady made any attempt to change-up her costume and add bells to her harness, it was a sight right out of the history books with the pageantry.
Then came the “Sleigh Dog” class. Each contestant added a dog and my favorite was a pony named Edgar Allen POny with his Corgi.