For years, Randy Bird has been training carriage horses on his ranch just south of the village of Harwood on the south shore of Rice Lake. He says the only way to train a horse to remain calm and controlled in traffic is to take them out into traffic. But first, they must be conditioned to sudden noises or movement on the ranch, then they can be taken out.
“The better schooled they are here, in a controlled environment, out there, anything can happen, in a heartbeat. A dog runs out or jumps or something and you can be on the hood of a car,” Bird said.
But lately, Bird has been having issues with other vehicles not sharing the road and endangering the horse, carriage and driver. In the latest case, a loaded school bus passed him on a very narrow portion of the road, clearing the carriage by a matter of feet.
“The one thing I hadn’t counted on was a few of the windows came down and the kids started yelling. Well, they were yelling right in the horse’s ear,” Bird said.
Under the Highway Traffic Act, horse-drawn vehicles have the right to travel on the road. Any motorized vehicle passing one must slow down and pass in such a way that it does not startle the horse. Failing to do so can result in a $110 fine.
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