Today, we thought it would be fun (and informative) to dive into the history of Lucky Clover Sleigh Rides with Lauren Reeve, the co-founder and operator/owner. From here, we hand the reigns (pun intended!) for this post to Lauren so you can learn more about her, the horses, and their passion for what they do!
About Lucky Clover Sleigh Rides
Lucky Clover Sleigh Rides was established in the winter of 2019, as the Lodge was looking for a vendor to continue their 20+ year tradition of offering winter sleigh rides.
By chance, they found Chris, my significant other, and me. Chris had two draft horses (Jasper and Fly), and with his previous sleigh ride experience, we decided to give it a go if the horses were up to it.
When we hitched Jasper and Fly together, it was like they had done it the day before. All we needed to do rides was find a sleigh. A few days later, a sleigh popped up for sale in Vermont, and we purchased it. It was as if all the stars aligned for sleigh rides in 2019, and we have been at the Lodge ever since.
In 2022, I officially took over the reins from Chris, who wanted to take a step back in the business because he recognized this was my passion. He still assists me at home with the horses by helping me trim their hooves and farm hay in the summer, but he has retired from giving sleigh rides himself.
About the Horses
As of 2024, we have five horses currently on the farm: Jasper, Fly, Philly, Liberty, and Morning Glory.
Jasper & Fly
Jasper and Fly have been together ever since they were babies. Fly was a surprise born on the farm in 2003. Jasper and Fly are 20 years old this year but are in excellent shape for their age because of how well cared for they are. They also have only had a steady job since 2019. They were trained to drive when they were four and sat in the field almost their entire lives. They occasionally pulled a hay rake and skidded some firewood out of the woods for personal use. Then, they started doing public sleigh rides in 2019 at the age of 16.
Draft horses, on average, live for about 30 years or more. Sleigh Rides and wagon rides are considered light to moderate activity for such powerful workhorses. Did you know they can pull 1.5 to 2 times their body weight?! The average draft horse weighs nearly 2,000 lbs, so each horse could pull 3-4,000 lbs or 6,000-8,000 lbs when hitched together. Our horses never need to pull that much weight and just plod along with the sleigh or wagon. They also have a very luxurious life; they generally work 2-3 days a week in the winter except for the holiday week, and in the summer, they are lucky to work one day a week if we find work for them. They usually get about three months off before summer work begins and mainly do wagon rides, stagecoach rides, and an occasional wedding.
They also have a heated water trough in the winter months and unlimited hay, plus they get vitamins daily in grain and lots of treats. They prefer working in the winter because they are exceptionally tolerate of cold temperatures. They grow a thick winter coat, which keeps them warm, even below zero. They also get blanketed because they are our babies, and our fields can get a bit windy. They roam 20 acres of pasture when they aren't working.
Lady Liberty, Phillipé, & Morning Glory
After our first winter of sleigh rides, we realized how much fun it was to share our horses with the public and show them the love that draft horses have to offer. Jasper and Fly may be a little older, but they still do a wonderful job working with the public. Knowing they won't be able to work forever, they are assisting us with training our future team of draft horses, Philly and Liberty, who are six and four years old. Philly and Liberty are larger than Jasper and Fly and registered Percherons, standing 18 and 19 hands, respectively.
A “hand” is four inches measured to the tallest part of the back.
Liberty is looking after her new baby, Morning Glory, this winter, but Philly (aka Phillipé) will hopefully be doing some sleigh riding this winter!
After every sleigh ride season, we buy equipment to help improve our business offerings and to keep the horses safe and feeling their best. The horses each eat anywhere from 40-100 pounds of hay daily, which is an expensive upkeep, so we appreciate all our customers who help support them!
About Percheron Horses
Of our current team, Fly is half Percheron crossed with an unknown paint horse, and Jasper is a Percheron.
Percheron draft horses were first imported to the United States in the 1800s and are known for their stamina and ability to pull heavy loads. The breed originated in France and is considered one of the most elegant horse breeds. Percheron horses can sometimes be taller than Clydesdales, ranging from 15 to 20 hands, and they can weigh 1,100-2,600 lbs on average. They are usually black or gray, very calm, and rarely spook. They are keen to work and perform for their owners, but they also make great riding horses!
There are roughly 35,000 Percheron draft horses left in the world. They were initially used as war horses and for farming. After the wars, they were used for heavy hauling and agriculture, which is why they have such muscular builds. Percherons have almost gone extinct several times because trucks and tractors have taken over their jobs.