INSTRUCTORS AND FARM CREW
We are so very fortunate to have had really
good and enthusiastic young crew members for our draft horse
Staci Long and Meredith
here with our leaders Nell and Dawn,
were the first crew. Staci was 17 and Meredith 15
when we first trained them to drive.
Ultimately, they both became touring crew with the
four Bowman horses. We traveled all around Virginia,
and into Washington, DC making appearances and parading
for the Bowman Companies.
Staci is living near her parents in southside Virginia,
and Meredith continues her studies in Charlottesville.
Then came the twins: Brittany Amiss and her sister
Laurel (now Conneely). These two cuties became serious,
highly competent teamsters. After all, if they we
going to help take four tons of horses and a three
ton wagon into a crowd of people, they absolutely
had to know their stuff.. They worked hard at learning.
"We drove 'til our fingers bled and our toes
froze, but it was all worth it" says Laurel,
whose twin sister Brittany, is shown here with her
team at Warren-Wilson College in North Carolina.
"Fred built us up in confidence and added responsibility,
and we proved to him we could do it when we
presented the century old carousel to the nation
on the "Today Show" with Fred's "cousin
Willard" ... and Fred wasn't even there!"
"Which," adds Fred "may prove that
I'm lazy, but I saw it as a chance to give these girls
a treat they could tell their grandchildren about.
Now, they help teach our driving
Laurel and Brittany developed their skills
in an open forest that, according to Laurel "Fred calls
his obstacle course. Apparently, he believes that we pay
more attention when the teams are winding throught heavy
oak trees that will not flex, than we do when working around
plastic cones in a pasture! Maybe he's right. It sure does
focus your mind when you are doing that!" she adds.
Brittany writes from college: "Fred and Dick
Sparrow sat Laurel and me down just after we had finished
a Driving School several years ago..
They reinforced the most important lesson I have learned
over the past five years; Fred's and Dick's horses are so
quiet and well-trained that my sister and I had never really
seen any trouble or excitement, so they told us in their
own words the
dangers and risks that are involved in working with draft
(or any) horses."
Even after crossing this waterfall, "it wasn't until
this last year here at Warren Wilson College that I really
understood the responsibility involved."
[Editor's note: In case you are wondering, Keith Damiani
at Sequoia Design
trained our team to cross such obstacles!]
Their parents, Janice and Randy Amiss recently commented
"The fact that our twin daughters learned to drive
draught horses when they were sixteen years old taught them
a sense of responsibility and self confidence that has made
them stronger individuals. It has also created opportunities
for them that they would not have had otherwise. We greatly
appreciate all that you have taught them. Many thanks!"
Those are nice comments from really nice folks. It takes
a high level of mutual confidence to send off two young
girls for several days of hard work in a situation that
can be risky, if it's not managed well. We appreciate their
confidence in us, too.
Brittany is on the draft horse crew at college; she reports
that the work includes "... hauling, plowing, discing,
field work, logging, and public events like wagon rides,
weddings, a funeral, and more..."
plowing at Warren-Wilson college.
Brittany is active in a work-study program that includes
using these Belgians to grow food for the college kitchen.
Brittany recalls the first time out with the Bowman Belgians:
"We were invited to join Fred, Staci, and Meredith
on a trip to see the team in a public
appearance. After a quick dinner, including sketches
of four-up lines on a napkin, Fred let us help harness and
hitch the team (out of sight of the crowds) and then we
rode the wagon and waved in a Christmas snowstorm while
our toes froze. It was some day, and we never have been
the same since. As Jimmy Klein
might say "Fred taught us everything he knows, and
we still don't know nuthin!"
"Hogwash", says Fred. "These girls are really
good teamsters because they worked hard at learning how.
It's pretty simple to let a well-trained quiet team pull
you down a straight road, but when you can back a heavy
vehicle with a multiple hitch in tight quarters, you are
driving at a different level."
a trip to Washington DC for a traveling Christmas party
of Bowman distributors, the girls drove a wagon full of
people down Pennsylvania Avenue under a full moon. Laurel
reports: "It's a real power trip to drive four horses
pulling a three ton wagon in the middle of DC traffic outside
the White House while looking at the moon over the US Capitol."
"Maybe so," says Fred "but I trained them,
and it was pleasure to watch. They do let me drive the large
transporter, while they sleep and sometimes giggle all the
way home. Life is good!"
is now married to Shane Conneely, who she found as a young
Irish waif needing affection when she was visiting her godmother
Anne Ueltschi in Ireland.
Shane and Laurel have a lovely boy named Colin, clearly
a future teamster
|If you'd like to ask about
or sign up for the next class: Contact