Behind the Scenes - Thank You All

Guy Graden DVM

Our Vet, Guy Graden, has been with us the longest. In fact, he did the pre-purchase exam for Big Jim in 1992 and made quarterly visits to my farm for 24 years. Guy taught me that pulling carriages should only be a small part of the life of a draft horse because these huge animals needed to be eating and drinking most of the day to maintain their health and strength; and the time standing/walking on the hard pavement in the city should also be limited. I also did not want my horses to work during the days when the temperature exceeded 90 degrees in north Florida. So from the very beginning, I decided to keep 1 or 2 horses at a time; have a policy whereby my horses worked a maximum of 5 hours/day year 'round; only work in the evenings from May through September; and continue my part-time work in the field of nutrition. I appreciate Guy's valuable advice over the years - especially with regard to how to select a sound horse and care for them.

Marvin Blackford, Trainer

Marvin Blackford (left), was an expert horse trainer from Ohio who retired in Jacksonville and became my trainer and advisor in 1992. Marvin specialized in training and showing Heavy Draft Horses. He patiently taught me how to properly harness and safely drive my horses; purchase and care for all the equipment; and he helped design my farm and Carriage House. He also had me tag along with him in the beginning to drive untrained horses until I thought my arms would fall off. Marvin was a "tough" instructor but he had kindest of all hearts. He encouraged me and my horses to do things that I felt we were incapable of doing - and this was exactly what we needed the most!

Vernon Bent, Farrier

Healthy feet and hooves are critical for heavy carriage horses so the farrier was a very important part of the team. Here's Vernon Bent shoeing Indy with heavy metal Kerkhaert shoes from the Netherlands. This was done every 6 weeks in the spring and summer; and every 7-8 weeks in the fall and winter. Many thanks to Vernon for doing such a good job and to the other farriers that helped - Gerald Douberly, Clint Kimball, Buddy Thigpen, and David Giza.
 

Dalton Dowdy, Carriage-Maker

I was so blessed to have a Carriage Maker nearby; and this was Dalton Dowdy from Jacksonville who started to maintain our carriages in 1992. Besides having a terrific sense of humor, Dalton had all the skill and equipment needed to keep the carriages safe for customers. Here he is with our vintage Brewster Victoria Carriage (circa 1885) that was originally bought for Lucy Coleman Carnegie just after her family purchased Cumberland Island in 1881. Because that carriage had not been used for many generations, Dalton's job was to make sure it was in good working condition.

How can a person do historic tours without knowing all about the city's history? Deon Jaccard was the director at our local museum in 1992 and a horse-lover as well. She provided a tremendous amount of interesting information for my tours. In addition, many of the long-standing families in town took our carriage tours and invited me into their historic homes to share information about their ancestors and homesteads. Most memorable are Celeste Kavanaugh (left); Betty Dressler; and Maria Chaplan (right) and her husband, Ernie.

"For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail."
                                   - Unknown Author

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