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   Last Updated: 2/9/11


 


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About Manes & Tails Harness Club

The Manes and Tails Harness Club was incorporated in 2008. The purpose of the club is to share the love of carriages and carriage driving through non-competitive events, to share knowledge of horses and driving with each other, to socialize, and to share the knowledge of the historical aspects of carriages and horse-drawn vehicles.

There was a time in our nation’s history when driving horses was a necessity. In the 21st century we are decades past depending on our equine friends to transport us or provide skilled labor for us. However, there are still many horse enthusiasts who drive horses for the pure joy of spending time with them. In the St. Croix River Valley of Minnesota and Wisconsin, recreational driving is alive and well. But why drive alone if it is possible to gather a group of friends for a day of driving, socializing and eating? That is exactly why Manes and Tails Harness Club was established. Being able to meet together on a regular basis to drive, talk about our experiences, and learn from one another is enjoyable and has improved our driving skills and encouraged new drivers to enjoy this sport.

single horse carts


Manes and Tails Harness Club meets the first Wednesday of each month, except in July and August. Our meetings provide opportunity to organize our club drives, host speakers on driving/horse related topics and enjoy refreshments and conversation together before going home. For those who are unable to come to our meetings, our monthly newsletters and our new website inform all members of the club’s activities. As our website evolves, it will also include pictures, a current calendar of events, resources, and information about various vehicles. Since recreational driving is our common interest, Manes and Tails members gather for club drives once a month, May through October, and a sleighing party in chilly March. These drives are hosted by various club members at their farms or in a nearby park. Arriving just before noon, those with horses and buggies hitch, get a map of the area and prepare to join with other members on the road or trail. Those who come without horses are welcome to ride with folks who have larger vehicles. On gravel roads and quiet country highways, wide shoulders accommodate our parade of rigs. It’s not unusual for families to come out of their homes to wave and watch us pass by. In state parks that welcome driving horses we enjoy the native flowers, trees and birds that surround us. In winter, quiet serene pastures and hayfields are perfect for sleighing. After our leisurely drive, our horses are cared for and our vehicles loaded into our trailers. But the day is not over! Our much anticipated pot-luck dinner is next. Everyone brings a dish to share. It is usually a favorite recipe. We kick back and enjoy a hearty meal followed by as many desserts as our consciences will allow. Then we head for home satisfied with the day!

Fjord team

In addition to having fun, the diverse talents in our club make belonging a positive experience. As a group, we train and drive horses of many breeds: minis, Gypsy Vanners, Fjords, Morgans, Quarter horses, Belgians, Percherons and Shires to name a few. The rigs we drive are just as varied. Some drive restored antique buggies and sleighs, some farm wagons and bobsleighs. In other cases, specially designed carts and sleighs have been built by their owners to accommodate the size of their horses or their own physical needs or desires. Various club members work together to produce a finished product. Engineers, woodworkers, upholsterers, and artists all bring their talents to bear on these vehicles. Sometimes it takes a village!

country cart


In the snowy upper-midwest we have winter at least four months of the year. We make the most of it by getting out in it. To celebrate winter, our club hosts a sleigh rally on the first weekend in February. “Winter Spirit of Yesteryear” is
Manes and Tails’s way of bringing members of our club and non-members from Minnesota and surrounding states together to enjoy a day of sleighing. The event offers an opportunity to see each other’s sleighs, horses and vintage attire and
exchange information and stories connected to our sport. Horses and vehicles are judged and ribbons given out in a number of categories. The event is held at the Washington County Fair Grounds in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. The public is invited to this free event to view the sleighing and judging. Sleigh rides are available with proceeds going to our local 4-H. Participants end the afternoon sharing a delicious warm dinner.

Sleigh Rally Dinner


Reaching out to drivers in other states has resulted in a friendship with several ranchers in South Dakota. Our club now hosts a trip to their ranches each September. This one week vacation for the horses and their owners begins with riding and driving near the Badlands. The group then works its way north visiting two large ranches, one a large buffalo ranch.
Manes and Tails Harness Club offers a social and educational outlet for its approximately 40 family units. We hope our example will encourage others to explore the world of driving. To learn more about us or to contact our officers.