In 2004 I bought a load of horses out of Canada to train and resell. Among them was a Clydesdale cross from Newfoundland. I had bought many of these crosses from the island because they were stocky, talented, well-trained and had great minds. There was only one Clydesdale stallion for as long as I had been getting them off the island so all of these horses could trace their lines back to him. I had wanted to keep one to work on our hack line. This time I decided that I would keep him. Little did I know he’d be the very last horse I’d get from Newfoundland.
The first year we rode him on trails, hooked him to carts around the farm and took him to local horse shows. All for fun and he was a favorite. The following spring the University of Maine at Orono put on their very first intercollegiate show at Pineland Farms. They called to see if they could lease some horses for the day. I had jumped Traveller on the trail and a few times over small courses at Ellis River Riders. I told them they could use him but I didn’t know how he’d do on an advanced course. He was the favorite!! He jumped the 2’6” course with six different riders getting third or better in every class. He was doing flying lead changes! A talent I didn’t even know he had!
One of the things that makes Traveller really unique is his love of crowds and noise. He’s the only horse I know that can be driven past an amusement park ride at night, people screaming, lights flashing and the ride seeming as if its going to come out over the fence at you and he goes by, ears up, eyes bright and with much interest as if to say he wants to go on that ride! He was also chosen to pull a 100+ year old Irish Mail cart in a wedding down Rte 88 in Falmouth. The entire wedding passed us whooping, hollering, honking…Traveller never flicked an ear, just as proud as he could be.
His personality, willingness and energy are a great combo for show business. He’s participated in camp “acts” such as cowboy, Paul Revere, Peter Pan and even did a grand entrance, after dark, with a new rider into a crowd of 400 children, who were whooping and screaming, to start off the annual color wars at the Seeds of Peace summer camp. He trotted in with much interest, no fear. Before the event, when we were out of sight in the woods, every time the kids would scream the rider would have to turn him away from the noise because he wanted to trot down the trail toward the sound!
He has also taken his act onto the stage and in videos. He entertained crowds inside the Theater of Awesome for four shows as a “commercial” on an old timey radio show. He had a starring role in Rick Charette’s video “I’m Taking My Cat Down the Slide” for the verse “I’m taking my horse out to lunch” he ate carrots in the dining area of Pear’s Ice Cream.
Traveller does get bored cruising along in the hack line day after day, so I try to mix it up with new and exciting events. One summer I took him to roping practice. He and I were both new to roping. We started breaking from the chute, which he took in stride, relaxed but ready. We practiced chasing the cow and getting in the “sweet spot”. Since he didn’t neck rein this was really important to our success. We chased slow and medium cows because we were just doing it for fun. Other riders made fun of (in good humor) the Clyde cross with his head up because he was the only non Quarter Horse there. But we roped a steer during our fourth practice. As a testament to his intelligence and willingness to get the job done I have to mention his reaction when we were accidentally put behind a fast cow because someone wasn’t ready for their turn. The cow took off too fast (neither of us was expecting it) Traveler gave chase and caught up as quick as he could. On our next cow Traveller backed into the chute with the exact same calm and patience but when that gate popped he took off so fast I almost rolled out of my seat backwards and we passed the poor cow!!
Playful and respected by his peers, Traveller is well-liked in the herd. He plays with others trying to pull their “skirts” and halter tag. He trailers like a pro. We’ve even put the shafts in after the horse, sliding them along the floor as he picks up each hoof to allow it to move under the carriage where its stored. The door is wide open the whole time, he knows he’s headed home so he’d rather cooperate than unload and load again!
There isn’t much Traveller wouldn’t put his heart and soul into. He has pulled in a team, driven everywhere single, been a member of a drill team, chased cows, been on camping trips, fox hunted, been a camp horse, been a hunter, done dressage. All of this and he will take a six year old to Pear’s Ice Cream everyday of the week. Little do his riders know what a talent they are sitting on as they trek through Maine’s landscape.