The Roundup -

Dynneson Family Carries On Tradition of Team Driving

 


Katelyn Dynneson can see it perfectly in her mind. The brilliant strands of white and colored lights. The misty steam of her horses’ breath against the frigid night air. She can hear the loud ringing of jingle bells dangling from their torsos, intermixed with Christmas music blaring from IPods connected to makeshift sound systems. What better place for two draft horses to pull an old style wagon than a parade during one of the most festive times of the year!

She plans to showcase her team of horses and wagon during the annual Sidney Parade of Lights. In it, she will pull her grandfather’s fully restored prairie covered wagon. Right now she’s busy working with her horses in an effort to get them ready for the big event following the brief hiatus that followed after a summer of driving and training her team.

For Dynneson, her team of horses symbolize the value of family and carry on a tradition and love of everything equestrian that dates back to her grandpa Sherman. When she was younger, she fell in love with his team of Belgians known as Mac and Queenie who starred as the family’s entertainment for years, taking them on enjoyable rides in the country. “Our family always had a lot of horses. The quarter horses we used for work but the draft horses were always just for pleasure. There’s just something special about draft horses,” Dynneson said.

Today, she has her own team consisting of two sister Norwegian Fjords, Kate and Hannah. They were already raised and trained together so getting them to work well together came naturally. Meeting them, it was love at first sight. She purchased them from a friend after going on a wagon ride. Smaller in stature than her grandpa’s horses, Dynneson said she was more comfortable working with them and felt she could handle them better. “There’s a lot of horse power in your hands when you are holding those reins and you have to learn to be in control,” she said.

Following in her grandpa’s footsteps, she wanted to continue the family legacy of team driving, something more familiar in old black and white western movies than in today’s whirlwind world of technology. For her, stepping back and enjoying its simple pleasure is part of what connects her to her family. And for them there is no better way to spend time with the family than by hitching the horses to the wagon and going for a relaxing drive. “Whenever people come around the first thing I want to do is get them out there and go for a ride,” she said.

Her grandparents Sherman and Marlys, bought their first wagon back in 1988 in Terry, Montana. Three years ago inside a heated garage, Sherman and his neighbor, Gene Cook restored everything on it including the carriage, sides, axels, and wheels which proved to be the most difficult to find. With a fresh coat of paint the wagon looks showroom worthy. “I found a lot of parts out in old junk piles,” he recalled. His collection of wagons is quite extensive and includes a sleigh and old doctor buggy.

In keeping at the heart of that tradition, Katelyn drives her horses in the old fashioned style but doesn’t wear the driving dress or hat. For her, jeans and a T-shirt do just fine. “That was the way I was taught. Driving really is an art form and it isn’t something you learn how to do overnight,” she said.

Today she is perfecting her technique and works with her team every chance she gets. “Not many people do this anymore and there are really limited resources for learning. I look at books sometimes but they just don’t do it any justice,” she said.

When working with her horses, she uses a small cart rather than using the larger wagons and practices her ground work with the lines.

Dynneson isn’t the only one in the family with a passion for horses. Her father Keith also works with her and her team. Sometimes he also helps Sherman with his mules Duck and Dude. She and her sister Alexis work together with their quarter horses Doc and Drifter and also have a single carriage horse named Ono they can’t wait to start working with. Their nephew, four-year old Colter, can hardly wait to become old enough to also work the horses. For now, he enjoys helping groom them and riding in the wagon.

“It’s absolutely wonderful to know they will carry on this tradition. It’s a joy to know it won’t get pushed aside and forgotten. Younger kids don’t care for these things but they just love it,” said Marlys Dynneson.

In the past, Katelyn has taken her team to the Town and Country Festival, and the Richland County Fair.

 

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