FARMINGTON – In a one horse open sleigh, Charlene and Michael Cushing circled through town on Sunday, much to the delight of onlookers.
The 100 plus year old sleigh was a gift to Charlene from her husband Michael, who completely refurbished the antique vehicle after finding it in an Uncle Henry’s. The seller had more than 20 of the sleighs for sale, according to Michael.
Michael grew up training and racing horses in Maine and recalls his father taking the family on open sleigh rides for fun. The Cushings still operate Cushing Stables where they train and race 22 horses, primarily for the Farmington Fairground races in September.
“These horses are more than just race horses, they’re family,” Charlene said.
The unique gray horse used for yesterday’s journey was an 8-year-old male named Air Force Grad.
“He’s very versatile. He rides, he drives, I let other people drive him too. He’s just one of those types that anyone can drive. He’s just one of those safe horses,” she said.
Air Force Grad took the Cushings from the fairground stables down to McDonald’s on Main Street before looping up through town and over to Pinewood Terrace where the residents had the opportunity to watch the nostalgic scene. It was the first time the Cushings took Air Force Grad and the sleigh on the roads, thanks to the 14 inches of snow that fell throughout Franklin County.
“There weren’t many cars on the road. But he’s not scared of anything,” she said.
The route included driving by Tranten’s on Main Street whose original owner Neal Tranten raced Cushing horses for more than 30 years.
Charlene said the couple plans to take the sleigh out again, but will have to play it by ear for there to be enough snow on the roads. In the meantime, the sleigh can go around the fairground race tracks anytime and Charlene said the public is welcome to stop by for a spin.