I drove into South Royalton, Vermont yesterday and held my breath. I hadn't been in town for a while. Would it still be there?
Yes, the horse trough is still in the middle of the road. You can't miss it: It's sort of in the way. You're not sure if it's a rotary or not. It's just there. I did find out there had been a major fire in town years ago and a whole block burned down. If it was still there, it would make sense why the trough was situated where it was.
Before you ask: No, I've never seen a horse drink anything out of it.
At a town meeting this spring, the townspeople voted to leave it where it is, although the base is pretty cracked. The selectmen wanted to move it.
I don't know how the base was damaged. Maybe a snow plow driver forgot it was there. It looks like the granite curbstones around the base aren't part of the fountain's original design. They were probably put there to protect the trough, or maybe to replace a base that was destroyed or crumbled.
Is (or was) it a trough or a fountain? I can't tell you. I would guess it was a fountain. What do you think?
It was like I was seeing it for the first time, even though it was something I'd driven by (and around) so many times. I spent so much time hanging around admiring it yesterday that a woman stopped and thanked me for how pretty it looks with the red and white color theme. She mistook me for the caretaker.
Well, I am the caretaker of my own memory that this horse trough is and should always be the first thing you see when you drive into town. It's been there since 1912. Women's groups across the country came to the aid of horses that year; the women's SPCA of Philadelphia converted hydrants to horse watering stations and provided over 700,000 buckets of water to horses that summer.
One of the specifications for locating a water trough for horses in a town was that it be situated so horses could approach it from all sides, especially if they were hitched.
In South Royalton, Vermont, they could still do that today, and have a nice drink, if the petunias weren't in the way.
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Do you have a horse trough or fountain in your town? I'd love to see if, if you do. Post a picture in the comments on my Facebook page, or leave a comment with a link to a photo.
I hope everyone has time this weekend to look at something they see everyday, and really see if for the first time.
Fran Jurga is a freelance writer in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where she writes about horses and marine science. The AIM Equine Network has hosted her multiple award-winning articles on The Jurga Report since 2006. Follow Fran on Twitter or Facebook, and come back here to read more about the issues and problems that face our horses.