Sleigh bells ring

Horse-drawn rides offer a true holiday experience.

Courtesy Sonnyside Rides.

In the picture book Victorian Christmas scene, there’s always a horse-drawn sleigh racing over snow-covered hills in the moonlight. We might have rain instead of snow, and the air may or may not be frosty, but you can still experience the jingling bells and clomping hooves, creaking harnesses, and the smell of hay this season.

At the West Tisbury Winter Farmers’ Market, you’ll find one or two of the horses from Sonnyside Rides pulling a cart through the fields around the Agricultural Hall. Sonnyside has three horses, two extremely large black Percherons and a Belgian. Each of them weighs over one ton. They draw a carriage that seats three to five people, for an intimate ride, or a hay wagon that can seat up to 16. They will be at the Farmers Market for the last days of its season, on Dec. 8 and 15, from 10 am to 1 pm. If you miss them there, they’re also available to hire for private events, including holiday parties, birthdays, and weddings. They’re also happy to decorate the carriage or hay wagon to suit the occasion. They can be reached at 508-680-3629 or via their website at

Fred Fisher of Nip ’n’ Tuck Farm brings his horses and hay wagon to Christmas in Edgartown for the tree lighting on Friday, Dec. 7, from 5 to 7 pm, and he’ll be on Main Street in Vineyard Haven on Sundays Dec. 9 and 16, from 11 am to 2 pm. His wagon is drawn by two elderly blond Belgian horses. Fisher says that he picks up old pulling horses that aren’t quite up to the contests anymore. They can still pull a wagon, though. His current horses, Dick and Dock, are 16 and 24 years old, respectively. “I get them to quiet down, and for the most part they do pretty well,” Fisher says. For private bookings, he can be reached at 508-221-8861.

Whether in town or bouncing across the fields up-Island, a hay ride is a fun way to get outside this holiday season, and catch a glimpse of Christmas past.