Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow and My 1800's Ancestors

Most mornings I get up with just exactly enough time to do my morning routine and leave. Sundays are no exception. An hour to get up, shower, get ready for church, and walk out the door, period. But the schedule doesn't always work in winter. Within about a 15-minute time period this morning, the rain changed to snow and left an inch on the ground. I knew travel would be slower than usual, especially with my husband (who's never in a hurry) driving.

On our way through the snow-covered streets I was thinking about my ancestors - the ones who had to hitch a horse (or horses) to a cart or buggy to go to church. They probably already would have figured in the time to hitch the horse as well as the time to travel to the destination, but did travel in snow slow them down? Did the horses step more carefully on snowy or icy surfaces? Did they hesitate or move more slowly? Did they wear special shoes in winter? Perhaps horses would have been more reliable (if slower) than our modern cars.

If there are any horse people out there who know about these things, I would be grateful to read your thoughts.

Just trying to put myself into my ancestors' situation 100+ years ago....


  1. I don't know how horses react to snow, but I know a farmer who consistently uses his Fell Ponies rather than a quad bike when out checking his stock on the hills. He lets the pony make the decisions as to the best route to take, in poor weather and ground conditions. He says it's safer than risking "driver error". Look forward to reading further comments on this subject :-)

  2. I know my ancestors looked forward to having enough snow to get out the sleigh as it was more comfortable. Once it got cold enough they didn't have to worry about wheels getting bogged down in mud. If the plank roads were covered in snow the ride wasn't a teeth jarring adventure. I don't don't know if horses were shod differently in the winter. If there was too much snow they didn't travel much.

    There is a farm down the road that uses horses for field work but for the life of me I can't remember if he had the team or the tractor when I saw him out this morning! I do know I have seen the team out in the winter - they're hard to miss when you get stuck behind them when they travel down the road to get from one field back to the barn!

  3. Jo, thanks for sharing about the ponies. I think it makes sense to let the ponies choose where to step and how to go, since their feet come in contact with the ground. Thanks for visiting.

  4. I didn't even think of sleighs, Apple, though I should have now that I remember visiting a historic village where we used to get sleigh rides in the winter. That would certainly make it easier to travel, especially for the horses. Is the farmer who uses horses Amish? It's uncommon for farmers to use horses these days. Thanks for coming to visit and posting a comment. I appreciate it.


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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