Saturday, September 15th was crisp and cool, ideal weather for a long ride. We drove up to Berlin to celebrate the 100th Anniversay of William Robinson Brown’s importing of Arabian horses from England, France and Egypt in 1912. It was the beginning of a breeding program here in the State of New Hampshire, spearheaded by him. It’s difficult to imagine how the horses were imported in those days, enduring long ocean voyages.
The Moffet House staff had worked their magic creating an incredible event in Berlin at the Brown Company Barns.
Walter Nadeau and Tom Hutchinson were responsible for contacting all the horse owners and getting them to come.
There were sixty one Arabian horses from all over New England and as far away as North Carolina there. Circling the giant barns were trailers, trucks and many beautiful horses. It was a jolly group of people who mostly knew each other from their love of the Arabian horse. These were endurance races, a fifty mile, a twenty five mile and and shorter ride for those who just wanted to participate. We went up to Cates Hill above Berlin where the view from the meadow was spectacular. The meadow was one of the stops along the race route. The horses were required to stop, rest, have a drink, and a vet check before continuing on. It was cool and windy, high above Berlin .
An old friend of Peter’s was there as an ambulance driver for any horse that needed to go back to the barn. He made three trips that day but the rest of the horses finished the race.
There was even a hot dog/hamburger stand in the meadow with a cheerful fellow who fixed them any way you wanted.
We left Cates Hill and drove down to the barns, across the Androscoggin River from Berlin where piers to separate the logs still remain. The Androscoggin River was the hardest working river in the United States in 1903 when logs floated down to the mills from the woods.
The barns housed the 900 horses that worked in the woods and W.R. Brown’s Arabian Horses. The Barns were huge. There was hay stored in the upper part of the barn and the horses lived below.The barns remain in good condition, reminders of the many horses used in the woods for logging by the Brown Company.
The Historical Society of Berlin now holds a market for antiques and collectibles several times a year.
This venture brings in funds for the Museum to operate. The Museum Staff tend to this operation in addition to their many other duties. It’s a totally volunteer effort dictated by their love of Berlin and the Brown Company.
The racers started to arrive as we reached the barns. The horses looked strong and healthy, still ready for more. I think the riders were more tired than the horses and relieved to be back at the barn.
There were horses of all colors but all of them had the graceful gait so characteristic of the Arabian Breed.
The required cooling period gave all of us a chance to see the horses move.
Each horse was rubbed down, walked and trotted until the Veterinarian declared them back to the right pulse and temperature. Then the race was over. The results had to be tallied and the winners declared.
When the horses had all been returned to their temporary paddock, fed and watered,
the barbecue began in the main barn. The food was all provided by the Historical Society. The awards were given with much applause and cheering. There were many young riders in the junior division that gave hope to a continuation of this exciting event.
Peter and I enjoyed our time spent with the Moffet House staff who had time for us even though they must have been exhausted from many days of hard work. Donald had started the morning, making coffee for everyone at 4a.m.! Ray Daigle was manning the fort at The Moffet House for those who wished to visit the Museum. Odette was keeping everything going smoothly at the barn . There were many volunteers, controlling traffic, parking and too many other chores to mention.
Peter and I spent the night in Gorham. The next morning we drove back up to the barns. The horses and trailers were all gone, the doors were closed and once again the barns were quiet. There wasn’t a trace of all the activities of the day before.
We drove back down ,following the River for awhile, then turned towards Bartlett and took a road that is only open in the warmer months down to the Kangamangus Highway. What a beautiful state we live in, so lucky to be here and to see this unusual event in Berlin!
Many thanks to all of you who organized this successful experience.
Kay and Peter Shumway
Moose Mountain Lodge, Etna New Hampshire September 18, 2012