Paul's Percherons

Paul was working Babe and Buster with the sledge so I hopped on…


One benefit of living in this place is having a couple of gorgeous Percheron horses right next door. Their barn is on the other side of a hedge of balsam fir and maple trees 50 steps from my door. Behind our house there’s a path from the barn to the field that Paul uses for his sawmill operation and for putting the horses through their paces. The other day Paul was working Babe and Buster with the sledge so I hopped on.

Paul Ruta is a pretty darn good neighbor as well. Frequently he asks me to feed and water the horses, check the fence, or just mind them while he’s away. It’s never a bother. I always enjoy it. So far as I can see, I’m getting the better end of the deal.

The horses are probably busiest during the winter when there’s snow on the ground. Paul’s got carriages, a sleigh, wagons and a sledge for all different uses and weather conditions. Draft horses are common in these parts for logging in the winter which is best done when the earth is frozen and there’s snow on the ground. With horses you can get in and around the forest with the least amount of disturbance to the soil than with a modern logging skidder.

A couple of winters ago I tried to bring the van up through the snow to the front door of our house. I didn't think it was deep enough to get stuck, but I was wrong. In most cases like this you’d get a tow from a neighbor with a tractor. Paul was happy to hitch up the horses and pull the van out. A tractor would have ripped up the lawn - with horses, not at all!

Then there was the year that Paul goat-sat for a friend. That goat paired up with Paul’s dog Bucky and watching all of them together on a winters ride was just hilarious!

A few years ago, Paul had a different pair of grey Percherons, Jesse and James. One night they got out and went onto the field across the road. In the grey of dawn, James was on the road when a truck hit him and broke his leg. He had to be put down. It was a massively sad day in Lower Cabot. We were all devastated. We stood around while a tractor lowered James into his resting place in the field. Horses are powerful beasts but they’re also delicate and vulnerable creatures.

Paul’s horses are a part of our lives here. I never take it for granted. In all the years we’ve been here it’s still exciting to seem them all hitched up and working. Heck, I just like looking at them in the fields. If you’re coming through the area and would like to go for a wagon or sleigh ride, check out Paul’s website and drop him a line.

Paul with Jesse and James