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Latest Blog - Trip #5

My name is Bob Skelding and Iím driving a wagon  on a journey throughout the United States. My only goals are to see new places, meet plenty of nice people like yourself, and to enjoy this great country of ours like itís meant to be enjoyed. In the previous 6 years my great team of horses has pulled me 9,000 miles through the United States.

Driving the Team Through Round Valley, CA, October, 2012

Blog Links - Click on the highlighted text

Journey

Dates

Route

Miles

Trip #1

8/08-2/09

NH to MS

1,800

Trip #2

6/09- 9/09

IN and MI

1,050

Trip #3

11/9-10/10

IN to CO via TX

3,200

Between  Trips

11/10-3/12

In CO

-----

Trip #4

4/12-11/12

Tour of the West

2821

Oregon Adventures

12/12 - 3/14

In OR

----

Trip #5

5/14-8/14

Tour Oregon

 

 I started this trip in Deerfield, New Hampshire and have met some incredible people and traveled through some amazing country, all while listening to the musical clip clop of hooves hitting the pavement. Come and share the journey with me.

I drive a team of three large draft horses.  Bill and Bob are sorrel Belgians and Doc is gray Percheron.  My wagon is configured as a complete camper and contains all of the minor conveniences that are in normal RV.  In addition to the wagon, I have  a supply trailer that is towed behind the wagon. All together, the horses pull a total of 7000 to 9000 pounds.

I normally travel with two horses pulling the wagon while the third horse walks behind the trailer with a day off.  However, when I encounter steep hills I bring the third horse into the hitch, driving them in a Unicorn configuration.

 Here is a brief outline of my 9,000 miles of  travel to date  The table on the right contains links to the various adventures,

 Trip #1: 8/08 to 2/09- New  Hampshire to Mississippi (1800 miles)

Accident - On 2/10/09 we were rear-ended  by tanker truck traveling at 71 mph.  The first wagon, pulled by four Percheron horses (3 mares and a gelding) was completely destroyed and Dolly and Deedee were killed.  This required construction of a new wagon and purchase of a new  team. I spent 4 months recovering before setting off on a new adventure, with a  new wagon and a pair of Belgians to pull it.

Trip #2: 6/09 to 9/09 - Southern Indiana  to Horse Progress Days, then to Michigan (1100 miles) This trip was in two parts and started in mid-state Indiana.  When I started this journey, I still had a lot of broken bones moving around, so it acted as sort of a post-accident trial  run.  My team consisted of the Belgian Draft Horses, Bob and Bill.  The wagon was sold to me by Bernie Harberts for the price of one Biscuit. With some help,  I converted it into an RV.

Trip #3: 11/09 to 10/10 The trip started  in Indiana, going to Texas, New Mexico, then up the west side of the Rockies.  (3200 miles) I was initially going to return to Indiana through southern  Wyoming, but changed my mind. For this journey, IĒm driving the Belgians, and  Doc, the Percheron that was in the front-right position on the first journey. I have the same wagon as on the second trip, but Iím hauling a trailer behind it  to carry supplies.

Trip #4 4/12 to 11/12 - This was a great loop through most of the American west (2,800 miles).

 

Purpose Of My Journeys

The sole purpose of these journeys is to travel  by horse and wagon and meet people.  I want them to share their experiences with me and Iíll share mine with them. Iím not supporting any cause, trying to achieve a goal, nor am I sponsored by anyone.

The reason Iím traveling in this fashion is  because it combines all the things I like best and eliminates those I like least.  Also, I canít think of a cooler thing to do.

Teams

My current team is the third combination that I have used on my travels.  Since November of 2009, I have driven my good gray Percheron, Doc, and the Belgians Bill and Bob. (Team #3)

Team #1 8/08 to 2/09 - Trip #1

The motive force for the wagon was originally  four Percheron horses: Joyce, Deedee, Dolly and Doc. Percherons are one prominent large draft horse breeds in the United States. Other large draft breeds are Belgians, Clydesdales, Suffolk Punches and Shires.

In 2008, Joyce and Deedee were 15 years old, half  sisters, and were bred by my grandfather Jake Sheaffer in Muir, Michigan.  I had them since they were weanling fillies.  Dolly was 10 years old and was bred in Chichester, New Hampshire. I bought her just a few months before the trip  began. I bought Doc at the last moment.  He was 8 years old (in 2008) and had been used for wagon rides, parades and horse pulls at the fair.

Team #2 4/09 to 9/09 - Trip #2

After the accident, I needed a new team. Joyce was ready for retirement and I felt at the time that Docís injuries would no longer allow him to pull a large wagon (boy, was I wrong about that). The new team consisted of two Belgian  geldings, Bill and Bob.  They are half brothers, 11 and 12 years old (in 2009), weigh about 2000 pounds apiece and each stand about 18 hands high.

Team #3 11/09 to the Present

After trip #2, I got Doc back, whom I  originally thought couldn‚Äít pull anymore. He was adopted out, then later returned to me.  Along with Doc, I have the two Belgians. Usually I drive 2  horses and rest the third as he is pony-ed behind the trailer.

 

About half the people in the world want to be free of bills and a daily grind, Iím one of them. My dream is to travel freely about the country, seeing new places and meeting new people.  Itís hard to take the steps necessary to live a freedom type lifestyle. Itís hard to separate yourself from your security and material belongings and move completely out of your comfort zone.  However, if youíre determined enough it can be done. Sometimes life hands you a Do-Over - a window in your life where you can do everything  over, exactly like you want.  Thatís what Iím doing.

Team #1, NH to MS, 8/08 to 2/09

Deedee

Dolly

Joyce

Doc

Team #2 4/09 to 9/09

Bill

Bob

Team #3 Pulling in the Unicorn Hitch

Wagons

Wagon Currently Used For My Travels

Wagon #1 - NH to MS (Destroyed on 2/10/09)

I built the wagon from scratch on a running  gear, purchased from Pioneer Equipment Company. Itís 7 1/2 feet wide and 16 feet  long. Since itís my home, I designed it as one.  It contains most of the modern  conveniences that we take for granted in our homes; including, a full size bed,  bathroom with shower and commode, a kitchen area with stove, refrigerator and sink and a small kitchen table. It has 12 volt and 120 volt power, hot and cold water and propane for cooking and heating. It also is made to support and care for the four horses.

The biggest challenge in designing and building the wagon is to keep it light enough to pull and strong enough to last.  I initially thought the first wagon weighed about 4,500 pounds.  When I finally weighed it I found it was over 7000 pounds - boy, was I surprised.

Wagon #2 - 4/09 to the Present

The second wagon was constructed by Bernie Harberts on a 3 ton Pioneer running gear.  Bernie had just returned to North Carolina from his latest adventure (http://www.riverearth.com/) when he heard  of my mishap. On the lookout for a good deal, Bernie sold me the wagon for the cost of a really good biscuit from the local Bojangles restaurant.

Itís significantly smaller than the old wagon  but nicely designed and constructed. But, I wanted a few more amenities, so I  added outside storage boxes, a rear shelf for storage, a rubber roof, a stove, refrigerator, sink and shower.  I also included 12 Volt and 120 Volt electrical systems. The wagon is now powered by 720 watts of solar panels

I get a lot of help from people  along the way, so I try to give back whenever I can. My favorite ways of giving back are; letting people interact with the horses, visiting schools and nursing homes, and spreading as much good will as possible.

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