by Renee Wormell


It has been a strange winter weather-wise in New England. The good news/bad news is

that while the lack of snow has provided opportunities for GSCA members to ride and drive carriages throughout the season, several sleigh activities have had to be cancelled. In addition to a shortage of snow this winter, lakes and ponds have not frozen sufficiently for on-ice activities. This was the case for the annual Ice Harvest Festival on Mill Pond, at 19th Century Willowbrook Village, Newfield, Maine on January 30th.

HorseDraftTeam IceHarvestA draft team pulls a large bobsled at the Ice Harvest Festival at 19th Century Willowbrook Village, Newfield, ME (photo by Doug Dolan)

Despite there being little ice to harvest, more than 200 visitors attended to see a horse-drawn snow roller in action, take a bobsled ride, and witness blacksmithing and other demonstrations of winter life in days of old.  GSCA president Jean Harvey was there with her team of pinto draft ponies, one of three teams providing sleigh rides.

PonyPair Sleigh IceHarvestJean Harvey’s pinto pony drafts put to 100-year old “fancy-sled” at 19th Century Willowbrook Village Museum in Newfield ME (photo by Doug Dolan)

HorseBobSledsOh what fun it is to ride … in bob sleighs at the annual Ice Harvest Festival. (photo by Doug Dolan)

The Ice Harvest Festival is held annually by 19th Century Willowbrook Village Museum ( to highlight what was once a routine winter activity throughout New England. Before refrigeration became commonplace in American homes, ice was a commodity harvested and sold commercially. Horse-drawn buckboard wagons and bobsleds transported blocks of ice to local ice houses for storage or to railroad depots for shipment to other parts of the country.  Horse drawn rollers were used to pack down snow on roads so that horses could be ridden or driven on top, an easier process than plowing.  Bobsleds, with drop-down tailgates were used much as pick-up trucks are used today, to transport things, or as a precursor to today’s mini-van, to transport traditionally large families to outings.

Ponies Jean WillowbrookVillageSmlGSCA Member Jean Harvey and her pinto pony draft team gave sleigh rides at the Annual Ice Harvest Festival at 19th Century Willowbrook Village, Newfield, ME

This year, in addition to Jean’s 100 year old vintage “fancy-sled”, two recently restored large buckboards with Belgian teams also provided sleigh rides.  Jean’s delightful sleigh was formerly used by the CT Governor's Horse Guard;  

Major Gordon McNeil put to a lovely Morgan mare. Jean Harvey currently lives and operates a horse farm in Enfield, NH. Horses have been a large part of her life since her early teen years. Now as a young senior, carriage driving is her passion both for pleasure and competing. Presently Jean is an active member of GSCA as President, and is also actively involved with CAA, ADS, GMHA, and PATH Intl.  She enjoys teaching and promoting the sport of carriage driving as Instructor and Trainer.


Congratulations to GSCA member Janet Oliver for taking Reserve Champion in the Single Pony division at Green Mountain Horse Association’s January Sleigh Rally with her pony CSS Kit Carson. Also taking advantage of the mild temperatures and adequate snow in January were Tracey Turner and her new horse Chardonnay 76 and Sue Rogers driving Solara.  

In addition to taking reserve in the Rally, Janet also won the Single Pony Combined Test Preliminary Pony Division on Saturday. At Sundays’ Rally Janet placed second in the Cones Single Pony, Pace Single Pony, and Open Single Pony classes and third in Ladies to Drive and Seniors to Drive.  Tracey took first place in the Combined Test Training Division on Saturday and first place in the Working Novice, Novice Cones, and Novice to Drive classes in Sunday’s Sleigh Rally. Sue Rogers placed second in the Combined Test Preliminary Horse Division and fourth in the Intermediate Horse Division.

Next on the GSCA agenda is the Annual Members’ Meeting to be held at noon on March 6, 2016 at The Elks Lodge 146, on Granite Street, Manchester, NH. This event is always a fun event to break up the winter doldrums - sharing memories and making plans for the driving and riding season just around the corner.  The “FUNd-raising auction” is GSCA’s one and only fund-raising effort outside of membership fees.  It is always a lively and humorous activity and a good opportunity to purchase useful, or just joyful items donated by members and businesses. Donations to the auction are always welcome. They do not have to be horse-related, and can be goods or services in the form of a gift certificate.  Please plan to attend this evening of information, awards, and fun.  Details can be found in the Feb. newsletter and at the GSCA website.

Ballots are in the mail for GSCA office and Director appointments and need to be returned in advance of the annual meeting in March. Additional nominations can be made by write-in. Appointments are for two years and involve attendance at only four meetings a year. Member involvement on action committees is also welcome.  Contact any current officer if you would like to volunteer. This is your club – new ideas are always welcome.  

Membership renewals are now due!  Early renewal helps our club meet annual obligations and prepare for spring events.
GSCA is dedicated to the promotion of safe, recreational, pleasure driving.  Single day and multi-day driving events are held all over New England. Riders are welcome at most events.  Dues are a bargain at only $25 a year (for $1 more, also become an affiliate member of Maine Driving Club!). Participation in most events is free, except for stabling or camping fees or catered meals if applicable. 

Find out more about GSCA...

See GSCA's Calendar of Activities and find us also on FaceBook – GSCA Granite State Carriage .

RECAPS thanks to Renee Wormell, Sec. GSCA