The groomsman backed Rebel into position and commenced hitching him to the carriage. This was a new experience for the brown brindled and white colt. He had never been pared with another horse. The wildness in his eyes reflected his inner apprehension.
“Hey Barney,” greeted James the carriage driver. “So the master wants to try this guy in a side-by-side. You think it’ll work?”
“We’ll see,” replied Barney. “Rebel is well named. He always wants to go his own way. I’m hoping Josh will keep him in line.
James smiled, “I’m headed down the old river road to the Grantham Estates. That road will test the mettle of a good pair, but Josh knows the road better than I do. If Rebel’s gonna make it, Josh is his best hope.”
Barney looked on as James took his seat, “God be with you.” He waved goodbye and said, “I’ll see you in a few hours.”
James backed the carriage a few feet then swung to the left. With the forward command, Rebel jolted forward. Josh on the inside of the turn anchored the swing. Rebel looked silly as he lurched forward and then stopped like he’d hit a brick wall. Josh, twice his weight and probably twice as strong, held the inside of the turn. He was in control, and Rebel had to conform.
They headed down the hill toward the junction with the river road. Rebel had a hard time adjusting to Josh’s steady pace, but eventually he fell into rhythm. Then they came to the right turn onto the river road. This time Rebel had the inside of the turn. Josh quickened his pace on the outside, but Rebel failed to slow. For James it was a nightmare trying to keep control. When they finally settled down from the turn, James chuckled to himself. “He’s learning.”
The team ran along rather smoothly until they reached the bridge. Rebel had never crossed a bridge. He bucked and started as they approached. James finally set the wagon’s brake and went forward to comfort Rebel. He patted and stroked the horse till he settled. “You’ve got to learn this too, young buck. Just follow your lead. Josh’s got this.”
Josh stood like a rock, stable and sure. James return to the driver’s seat and gave the command for forward. Josh slowly moved up the rise to the bridge. Rebel moved ahead tentatively. At the sound of their hooves on the planking of the bridge, Rebel gave another start. James let them hesitated for a moment then moved them on. By the time they reached the other side, Rebel was reasonably settled.
The rest of the trip to Grantham Estates went as expected for a horse in training. He had his own idea for each bend in the road and how to negotiate the ruts. Josh held position, and Rebel conformed, mostly. It was a long trip over the rolling hills to the estate. As they neared their destination, James could see that Rebel was settling and beginning to trust Josh’s lead.
Upon arrival a servant greeted James with the news that there would be a several hour delay before the package he came for would be ready. “We’ll take care of your horses,” he said. “I’ve got some oats and water for them, and I’ll put them in that small corral for the wait.”
“Thanks!” James responded.
“Mrs. Grady has some tea and biscuits for you in the pantry,” the servant added.
“Thanks again,” James said with a noticeable smile. He loved Mrs. Grady’s cooking.
(Next week the return home)