Since we started doing carriage work with Duke in 2015, we have been privileged to attend many, many weddings. All have been wonderful, from the small and very private, to the very large and elaborate. All were magical. Thank you so much to our wedding couples for allowing us to be part of your day.
In order for Duke and all of the humans who have attended our weddings to enjoy and be safe at their events, there has been a great deal of background work. Much of that work has consisted of exercising him on country roads to make him experienced with the sound of traffic as it passes, and to keep using and habituating the commands that make a carriage horse and his handler work well together.
In the last two years, the increased traffic on our road has become prohibitive. New housing subdivisions in Almonte have quadrupled the number of cars travelling past our door. This increased traffic on a country two lane road has led to increased driver frustration and poorly considered driving decisions. This includes poor conduct around farm equipment of all kinds bearing the orange triangle which gives those who drive that equipment the absolute right of way. Duke and his carriage constitute one of those vehicles bearing that sign.
March Road has been, throughout or residence here, a road where speeding was common. With a posted speed limit of 80, the prevailing speed on our little country two-laner is now between 100km/hr and 120km/hr. This means that the consequences of the driving errors outlined above are much more dire. People (more than one) every year die on our road. Even one is much too many. Accidents happen when residents are turning into their own driveways and drivers behind them fail to stop or slow down.
This year we requested help from the Ottawa Police Service to enforce the traffic laws that apply to this road and the people who use it. It took a long time to get a response, and when one came, the author cited lack of constables and an overwhelming degree of other incidents requiring attention. The best they could promise is that the existing constables in the region would be asked to increase their vigilance with respect to traffic incidents.
The current conditions make it absolutely impossible to work Duke on our country road and many of the others in our area. This makes him less and less safe at weddings over time as he is unable to practice his skills between events. Without the cooperation and adherence to the laws regarding horses and agricultural traffic on our roads from other drivers, we simply cannot put Duke at risk any more. He is far too valuable and beloved to us.
In addition to safety issues, Duke is now 19 years old. This is equivalent to, perhaps, a human in their mid sixties. With the safety issues we have outlined, it seems a good time to simply retire him from carriage work.
Thank you to Duke's fans and supporters all over the Ottawa Valley, and to our friends who have supported us in so many ways. Duke will continue with Medieval Cosplay photography and Therapeutic visits.
I am crying as I write this. Thank you so much.
Please note: Our horses are NOT FOR SALE as a result of this or any other announcement.
3950 March Road