Antique Sleigh Rally

4-person sleigh

Dashing through the snow

It is winter and it’s Christmas time, and along with Santa and snowmen and reindeer, many people associate this time of year with horse drawn sleighs.  Most people today have never even seen a real sleigh being pulled by real horses. But there are places where people still hitch up their horses, wrap themselves in warm blankets and with sleigh bells jingling, go for a sleigh ride.

At the Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, they’re trying to keep this wonderful activity alive. Each February the village hosts an Antique Sleigh Rally with dozens of horse-drawn sleighs pulled by a variety of horse breeds including Haflinger, Gypsy, Morgan, Arabian, Clydesdale, Percheron, and miniature horses.

Dozens of sleighs? How many is that?

1. How many sleighs are in 1 dozen?

2. If there were 2 1/2  dozen sleighs in the rally, how many would there be?

A one horse open sleigh

A one horse open sleigh.

Back in the 1800’s many people used sleighs as their main source of winter transportation. In fact, with the ice and snow it was like the roads were paved! And – it’s easier to slide on ice than it is to slide on the ground.

That’s why you can skate on ice – imagine trying to skate on the ground. It can’t be done. Why is that do you think? Ice is slippery, dirt is not. If something is slippery – it has less friction!

Science Talk – friction: Friction is a force that holds back the movement of a sliding object.
Portland style sleigh

Painted and stencilled Portland style sleigh

The runners on a sleigh are designed to be as smooth as possible, so they have less friction and can slide more easily over the ice and snow.

The sleigh to the left is a one horse, two-person sleigh. It was built in 1840.

3. How old is this sleigh?

Let’s take a look at this sleigh’s dimensions.

Math Talk – dimensions: Dimensions are used to describe the size and shape of an object.

The body of the sleigh is 53″ long with the runners adding an additional 26″ to the length of the sleigh.

horse drawn sleigh4. What is the total length of the sleigh?

The sleigh measures 43″ at its widest point and 46″ at its highest point.

5. How much higher is it than wide?

Back when sleighs were common, they didn’t have snow plows to clear the roads. Instead of plowing the snow away after a storm, teams of horses and oxen were driven out to ‘break the roads,’ and trample the snow down.

horse-drawn sleigh

Small 2 passenger horse-drawn sleigh.

The sleigh in the photo to the left is another style of sleigh. This one has a total length of 74″ and the seat back slants backward at about 70 degree angle.

6. How much longer is the stencilled sleigh than the sleigh shown here?

7. What type of angle is a 70° angle?

8. Is a 70° angle > or < a right angle?

horse drawn sleighThe sound of sleigh bells is music to many people’s ears. Did you know that sleigh bells were developed as a safety precaution? Because sleighs glide so silently over the snow, the jingling sounds prevented collisions, especially in the dark.

A walking horse moves at an average speed of 3 to 4 mph and trots at an average speed of 8 mph.

9. What does ‘mph’ stand for?

10. If you were driving a sleigh and your horses trotted for 1/2 hour and walked for 1 hour at an average speed of 3 mph, how far would you have traveled?

The next Antique Sleigh Rally is Saturday, February 1, 2014. Not many of us live close enough to attend this wonderful event, but, at least we can enjoy this video!

Common Core:
3.OA.D.8 – Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division word problems
4.NBT.B.4 Fluently add and subtract multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm
4.NF.B.4b – Multiply fractions by whole numbers
4.MD.A – Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements from a larger unit to a smaller unit.
4.G.A.1 – Acute, right, obtuse, and straight angles

All photos courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village

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