Following is an article I wrote for our local paper. I’ll be doing more of these in the coming months. Check it out.
Drive up to Stoneboat farm in Loudon, NH and you will likely be greeted by three curious faces. These faces belong to Roy, Billy and Lucy, three of the “children” belonging to Larry and Linda Stone. However, these “children” stand close to seven feet tall and weigh almost a ton each. Confused? Don’t be. These “children” are Belgian draft horses. While a bit imposing at first, walk to the fence and you are met with a soft muzzle that just wants to be rubbed.
“Roy was the first,” explains Larry and Linda. Roy came from a farm in Mason where Larry first learned about driving draft horses. Then Lucy joined the family. She was just two at the time. Billy was a rescue horse who came from the same farm as Roy.
“They play in the paddock like children.” Says Linda. “The two boys rough house and Lucy just stands to the side and shakes her head.”
“I grew up around harness racing, so I knew a little about horses and driving.” Says Larry about his decision to get draft horses. “But I’ve always been fascinated by the history of logging and draft horses just naturally fit.”
Larry and his team provide wagon and sleigh rides throughout the year. You will see them in parades or you can hire them for private events. Roy and Billy create the team that pulls the wagon while Lucy drives single pulling the sleigh.
Beyond his horses, Larry believes in sustainability and understands the life of a farm. He raises chickens, though last year was tough when a mother fox stole several of their flock.
“I have about six left.” Says Larry. “But I want to diversify this year, anyway.”
Larry raises chickens for both eggs and meat, but admits that processing your own chickens is “an all-day event with no stopping in between.” It’s hard work, but he also believes in taking the time to make the whole process as stress-free for the birds as possible.
Larry and Linda hope to expand their farm in the near future by adding turkeys and goats. Yet, Larry agrees that Belgian draft horses are not necessarily self-sustaining.
“We make some money from the wagon and sleigh rides,” he admits. However, the horses often cost more for upkeep than they bring in for income.
Still, you can see the sparkle in his eye when he talks about his team. “Civilization owes a lot to the horse,” says Larry. “These are huge animals that have been domesticated over the centuries. They weigh close to a ton yet they let you do anything to them.”
Valentine’s day is coming up and if you are thinking about popping the question or just want to impress a special loved one, consider a ride in a one horse open sleigh. Lucy won’t mind. She loves the work and will enjoy making your day special.