Driving with Nattie

Wagon 1 (1 of 1)Now that my focus on puppies is finished I can tell an untold story.  A few weeks ago I was doing a little preparing for my photography workshop.  One day will be spent at the Book Family Farm near Durham, Ca.  Nattie, one of the MANY Books on the farm, was gracious in allowing me to come by and see how “things are done” and check on the lighting etc.  Wagon 3 (1 of 1)On arrival I am immediately humbled by the site of these gentle giants standing quietly waiting to be harnessed. Wagon 4 (1 of 1) Harnessing up these big beasts to drive in no fast task.  BUT….Nattie makes it look easy.  Nattie is a driving trainer who is impressive to watch.  She drapes herself in driving tack and some how places it 16 plus hands high without much effort.  Even when “Vic” decides NOT to stand still.  Wagon 5 (1 of 1)When Vic does not stand quietly for harnessing Nattie asks him to keep moving in a small circles.  Quickly it becomes Vic’s idea to stop, stand still and accept the harness.  Nattie prefers to train her drafts “naturally”.  Instead of using force the “natural” way to train is to some how make it the horses idea to do that little something you want them to do.  Natural horsemanship allows the horse to maintain its dignity while at the same time developing a much safer horse.untitledNov 12_-112-EditDGoldens “Driving Naturally with Nattie” is the name of her game. untitledNov 12_-116DGoldens  It is written out plain and simple.  Nattie rules the barn.   untitledNov 12_-119DGoldens Organization is the key to productivity in any trade or profession.  untitledNov 12_-106DGoldensMaggie the young cattle dog and Thibodeaux (Thibby) the lab wait patiently in the wagon.  I love taking shots of dogs in trucks.  I might have to make “dogs in wagons” a new theme.  untitledNov 12_-95DGoldens Thibby is very laid back as you can see and has not a care in the world except making sure he goes on the wagon ride.  untitledNov 12_-88DGoldensMaggie on the other had is a bit worried.  She had a bad experience a few weeks ago after getting shocked by an electric fence. untitledNov 12_-97DGoldens Maggie would prefer to be inside the nice warm house but Nattie says cattle dogs can’t always stay inside.  untitledNov 12_-100DGoldens Maggie needs to face her fears by being outside again even if tied into the wagon. Wagon 6 (1 of 1) Besides dogs in the back of wagons we have whole families in the back of trucks.  Here is the Drake Family.  Brian (at the wheel) and Katie with the kids passing by while they work on the farm. Wagon 7 (1 of 1) The tacking up is almost complete.  We are almost ready to go. untitledNov 12_-129DGoldens Cathie is training with Nattie and her horse Vic to become more confident and safe driving.   You could call it “drivers training”.  Cathie holds “the lines” while Nattie takes care of a few more details.  untitledNov 12_-130DGoldens Ivan are Vic are the pair going out first in the line up today.  The other two horses wait patiently at the barn for their turn. Vic or maybe it’s Ivan looks back at me as if to say….. “What are you doing behind me on the ground?”  untitledNov 12_-138DGoldensBut now I am NOT on the ground anymore….. I am about to have my FIRST ride ever in a wagon with Nattie and Cathie driving.    I have been on the back of a horse a zillion times but I have NEVER been pulled by a horse in all my years.  This was one of those times when I say to myself  “why am I not out taking photo’s more often?  I AM a photographer…not a computer programmer”  untitledNov 12_-159-Edit-EditDGoldensAfter the photo of me and Nattie I take my spot in the back of the wagon with Maggie and Thibby.  I get to look at the backs of the horses instead of being ON their backs.untitledNov 12_-149DGoldensMaggie has to stay in the wagon since after her “bad fence experience” she might run away.  Staying in the wagon becomes hard to do when Maggie sees Thibby take off after a rabbit or something.  Maggie is now in the FRONT seat as you can see.  Nattie is all smiles watching Maggie love being outside again.  Even if it means being at the end of a long lead. untitledNov 12_-164-Edit-EditDGoldens  The horses take us through the fields with out much effort.  It is amazing how they know their job and perform so willingly. I feel like I have gone back in time.  It is 1860 and I am hitching a ride in a wagon. untitledNov 12_-207-EditDGoldens On our way back to the barn we stop to open a gate. untitledNov 12_-182-Edit-Edit-EditDGoldensOf course this is an opportunity to take some ground shots.  I love the way drafts shake their heads and turn their big faces in that goofy way.  untitledNov 12_-203-Edit-EditDGoldensBut they straighten up and focus on me.   untitledNov 12_-180-Edit-EditDGoldensI turn my attention to Nattie for a full wagon shot.  Nattie is passionate about what she does and it shows.  untitledNov 12_-212-EditDGoldensMaggie gets some loving.  Can you tell how proud Nattie is of her baby?  untitledNov 12_-208DGoldensIt’s time to go and Maggie has to see where we are going.  untitledNov 12_-215DGoldensNattie says I can get up into the front seat but how do I get up there?  Why just step up onto that tire you see there.  This wagon traces back to the 1800’s but has been modernized as you can see.   untitledNov 12_-222DGoldens When riding on the back of a horse control comes in may ways. Holding the reins comes to mind.  Sitting next to someone holding lines connected to these giant beasts is a bit unnerving but Nattie is in full control “naturally”. untitledNov 12_-236-Edit-EditDGoldens Nattie drives me right up to my car.  Unfortunately for me the fun is over.  As I hop out and say my goodbyes and thank you’s I’ve got to get a shot of Cathie and Maggie who took the back seat so I could ride in front.untitledNov 12_-238DGoldens  Even while in my car I can’t put my camera down.  untitledNov 12_-241DGoldensA close up of a different angle from my front seat.  Nattie and me driving up the driveway.  untitledNov 12_-246-EditDGoldensBYE BYE you two beautiful giants.  Thanks for the ride. untitledNov 12_-251-Edit-Edit-EditDGoldens Another day at the BOOK FAMILY FARM where life goes back in time.

9 thoughts on “Driving with Nattie

  1. I LOVED this blog and the pictures! I think this gal is awesome and her horses are gorgeous! I think the final picture brought it all together, and as you said, a glimpse into the past. I just finished reading The Whip about a woman stage coach driver, one of the best during the Gold Rush days but the twist was, she had to dress and act like a man to do what she loved and was so good at. No one knew she was a woman until she died in Watsonville California!

    Enjoying your Sundog Drift.

    Melodie & Maggie

    Sent from iPad


    • Loved your story and response! This is the first you have seen of the Nattie and the Book Farm Drafts. There will be more to come. Give “your” Maggie hugs from Mama Jo.


  2. Beautiful pictures. Indeed our Nattie is a talented and beautiful lady. I believe her smile alone lights up the universe! Thanks for sharing your blog. I celebrate your gift with a camera!


  3. Hi Jo _ I’m having fun reading your blog! T

    >________________________________ > From: The Sundog Drift >To: pmputerbaugh@yahoo.com >Sent: Thursday, April 4, 2013 10:21 AM >Subject: [New post] Driving with Nattie > > > WordPress.com >Jo Danehy posted: “Now that my focus on puppies is finished I can tell an untold story. A few weeks ago I was doing a little preparing for my photography workshop.One day will be spent at the Book Family Farm near Durham, Ca. Nattie, one of the MANY Books on the farm, w” >


  4. I loved your blog Jo & had so much fun seeing these pictures. We did have a great day & knowing now that this was your first time on a wagon ride makes me want to put you in a cart with one of my faster horses & take you on a “ride”. So much fun! 🙂
    Thanks all for the kindness. I love my job & believe more and more every day (with all the encouragement) that this is what I was meant to do.
    By the way Jo, I look forward to reading your blogs every time I see your emails. 🙂


    • OK for sure I’ll take you up on a faster ride sometime! That will be another photoshoot and blog post. Finding your passion and what you are “meant to do” is pretty cool. I’m so happy for you. Glad you enjoy my blog. Thanks for the feedback. It keeps me at it.


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