The Saint Paul Winter Carnival is in full swing this weekend. This is the time when we celebrate (and embrace) the cold weather. There are events ranging from parades to ice carving to snow sculpting to hockey games to outdoor beer gardens to Red Bull Crashed Ice and a sleigh and cutter rally too. Although we’ve had some serious cold weather this past week our snowfall has been minimal. But there was enough for the sleighs and horses to be out today. With temperatures right around freezing and a light snow coming down it seemed like I had been transported to a different era. Many of the drivers were dressed in period clothing to match their sleighs or wagons, and the horses seemed to enjoy the open space and the snow as they trotted along. There were one and two-horse sleighs, and a few sleighs pulled by ponies whose feet had to work overtime to cover the same distance as the horses. This driver and his matched team seemed to be reveling in the event and the weather. The image made me think that they had been out for a drive and were now headed back to the comfort and warmth of their respective home and barn.
Amidst a light coating of snow and a bright and sunny day, I went to the 36th annual sleigh & cutter festival that was put on by the St. Croix Horse & Carriage Society. Because of our lack of significant snow this year I wasn’t sure if the event was going to take place. But this year’s smaller snowfall was much easier on the horses and ponies than last year’s two to three feet of snow that they tried valiantly to move through. With the somewhat “mild” temperature of 20 degrees and sunshine, the horses seemed to enjoy the outing, moving easily across the open spaces and kicking up a light dusting of snow. The drivers were dressed in period costumes and the horses and ponies were adorned with bells that rang and echoed across the course. If you were to block out the sound of the cars traveling on the boulevard nearby it would have been easy to think that the year was 1900 when this was the mode of transportation for winter days.