Jamie Ellsworth leads a horse-drawn carriage ride through Ozzy's village

LAKE GEORGE Preparing for a jaunt through Lake George Village, carriage driver Jamie Ellsworth sprayed her horse Ozzy with an insect repellent. A handsome chocolate-brown, standard-bred horse, Ozzy has been pulling carriages for almost 10 years, following a career as a racetrack horse, Ellsworth said. This is Ozzy's retirement job, transporting passengers for Lake George Carriage Rides Co. Of the 20 horses Ellsworth works with, Ozzy is her favorite, she said as she prepared for our carriage ride through the Village. "He's a character," she said. "Most of the other horses, they love attention. But Ozzy doesn't like people. He likes his job, he likes to do his job well and he doesn't like to be messed with." Ozzy's big brown eyes turned toward Ellsworth, as if in agreement. I climbed in the front of the carriage next to Ellsworth and we were off, clippity-clopping through the streets of Lake George Village. Ozzy seemed to know exactly where he was going. He even knew to wait for people to cross the street, and stood patiently while children pointed greeted him. "Ozzy does the same route about six times a day," Ellsworth explained. "Horses are creatures of habit, and once they get in a routine, they like to stay in a routine. That's when they're happy. The laid-back horses will let you take them out of their routine, but Ozzy, he doesn't like that." As we headed around a corner, another carriage appeared and Ozzy lifted his head and neighed. "Were they just greeting each other?" I asked. "Yep, whenever Ozzy sees another horse, he always whinnies," she said. "They're almost too smart sometimes." When we entered a road without much traffic, Ozzy began trotting a little faster. "We let them take their own pace," Ellsworth said. We trotted along the lake, enjoying a crisp cool breeze, past the Million Dollar Beach, which I was told contains $1 million worth of sand imported from New Jersey. When we passed Battlefield Park, the sound of drums from a reenactment of the French and Indian war could be heard. "Ozzy isn't a fan of drums," Ellsworth told me as we clip- clopped by. "He likes to give them dirty looks." "Ozzy isn't bothered by much, though," Ellsworth added. "Only little stuff. Like if a plastic bag flies across the road, he'll turn his head, but the big stuff that he sees all the time, like cars and trucks don't really faze him. It's part of that routine thing." "Do you think he enjoys pulling carriages?" I asked. "I do We don't have to force him to do anything, she replied. And if he didn't want to do it, he wouldn't. I can tell if they're happy and Ozzy is definitely happy." Ellsworth has a lot of experience with horses. In addition to employment with Lake George Carriage Rides for seven years, she's been on the rodeo circuit since she was big enough to get on a horse. Her whole family competes in rodeos. Her specialty is breakaway roping, a rodeo event which involves riding a horse while roping a calf. As we headed back to the post, Ozzy slowed to a relaxed pace. Ellsworth said some horses that first come off the racetrack complete the carriage ride in 12 minutes, but Ozzy executes a perfect 20-minute ride every time. After I stepped off the carriage, Ozzy took a drink of water and rested for the next ride. He had only a few more rides to go before his workday was done. And then, Ozzy's favorite part of the day would begin which involves returning to his barn for a dinner of hay and grain, and afterwards, a romp with his girlfriends through the pasture, Ellsworth said. "And Ozzy has lots of girlfriends," she said.

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