Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Classic Winter's Sleigh Ride

Yesterday I surprised Bridget and Timothy with a treat that every New England winter should not be without – a sleigh ride! With all this snow piling up, we’re enjoying taking part in all of those wonderful activities that you just can’t do in the summer.

When I told Bridget that we’d be going on a sleigh ride at “The Big Hotel” with a horse, she wanted to know two things: would there be sled dogs and would there be cows? So we know that she associates rides in the snow with sled dogs and horses with cows. No, no other animals this trip, but I assured her that the big draft horse that would be pulling us would be entertainment enough.

We checked in at the Activities Desk at the Omni Mount Washington Hotel and then took the shuttle down to the sleigh ride pick-up spot near the Bretton Arms Inn. Bridget was pretty excited to ride on the bus, so I knew the sleigh would be quite a treat. Another family with two small children were just finishing up their ride as we arrived, and all of the kids clamored to stroke the horse’s nose.

Glen, the big white Percheron that would be our horsepower this afternoon, was amazingly patient with all of the kids grabbing and patting at him. Timothy was absolutely ecstatic with the opportunity to touch him, and I had to juggle holding both kids in my arms as Glen sniffed at their hands. Glen was all decked out in an ornamented harness and Luke, the driver, encouraged us to spend time with the docile horse.

Into the red velvet Austrian sleigh we climbed, and covered up with think faux-fur blankets, although Bridget refused to wear her mittens – she wanted to be able to feel the blanket and be ready to touch the horse again. It’s amazing how 20 degrees doesn’t feel “that bad” after a morning of sub-zero temperatures. We toured for about half an hour, and Bridget snuggled in close to me as we lumbered along. We passed the stables where the other draft horses munched on hay and then behind the Omni Mount Washington Hotel for a spectacular view of Mt. Washington, with just a wispy cloud over its top.

Timothy got a bit restless about half way through – he kept pointing up at the horse and I knew he was more interested in petting Glen than in riding behind him. This is where a second parent to help wrangle the children might have helped! But in the end I think the kids were happy to be riding along, unrestrained by the usual car seat and straps.

More time stroking the horse’s nose finished out our afternoon ride. I had hoped we might top off our classic winter tour with a hot chocolate for the kids, but I could tell that naps were in order, and sure enough, both were asleep within five minutes of getting back in the car. I can only imagine they dreamed of velvet horse noses and gliding through all things frosty and white this afternoon.


  1. That sounds amazing! What a special treat for all of you. And i love your writing Martha.
    How often are the sleigh rides available? How magical it would be to sit in velvety sleigh with faux fur as we are whisked about a winter wonderland. I think i will look into this. Thanks!

  2. Alison, thanks! Sleigh rides are offered every afternoon during the week and on evenings as well on the weekends. Be careful, though, Robert might ask you for a pony!