All The Farm That Is Fit To Print

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A History of Shires in the United States-Warings

by Arlin Waring

We brought a new member to our breeding operation with the importation of Jim’s Chieftain, from England. He was the first Shire imported to the US since the 1930’s. His arrival made international news which began a resurgence of the breed in both the US and England. Numbers increased at a tremendous rate over the next twenty-five years. Jim made a huge impact on the breed in the US, not only in numbers, but even more so as to type and overall appearance. The importation of Jim brought on a whole new endeavor for the Wareing family. Arlin, and sometimes Maxine and other family members, have been to England over sixty times buying and shipping Shires for breeders from coast to coast. We lost track of the numbers brought to this country, years ago. We have estimated that well over four hundred have passed through our hands in one way or another. There are few Shires in the US today whose pedigree does not trace back to some of these horses.

The increased interest in Shire horses created a need for an active and fully funtional registry. In the early 1950’s the American Shire Horse Association (ASHA) had become inactive with many of the records being destroyed. It was revived again in 1965. In 1968, Arlin became a Board member and was appointed Vice President. He was President from 1973-1978, and continued to be a Board member or serving on the committees for nearly twenty years. Todd served on the Board from 1993-1997.

The Wareing’s breed prefix, Dua He Chi, came about in the beginning, and is often questioned as to the meaning. Blackfoot is next to the Shoshone-Bannock Indian Reservation. In the native Shoshone language the name Maxine, which means “Little Great One”, translates, as near as we can tell, to “Dua He Chi”.

The number of horses bred by the Wareing’s is too long to provide a detailed account. However, the records will show the horses registered under the prefix maybe one of the largest in the studbook. However, the number of stallions used is very small, which is a breeding design. As noted, Jim’s Chieftain was our first stallion. We used him for thirteen years before he became related to all the mares in our breeding area. We gelded him at age 15 and he spent the rest of his life on the farm. He was followed by Ryton Majestic, who was imported in 1976. He was used alongside Due He Chi’s J.R., a son of Jim, born in 1980. I believe he has sired more registered foals than any other stallion in the US. He served mares until his death at age 23. Providence Jake was imported as a yearling in 1996, but failed to become a good producer. He spent most of his life on the wheel of our hitch. Hillmoor Double Diamond was imported as a foal in 2000 and continues his duties as of this writing. Each one of these stallions has been awarded Grand Champion Shire Stallion at the National Shire Show one or more times. I can only think of three mares we have ever bred to an outside stallion. We pride ourselves in our effort to follow a long term program.

Interested in purchasing a Shire? Please contact RiceCreekShires.com.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How to Put Together a Draft Harness

How to Put Together a Draft Harness

by Rachel Steffan

A draft harness must be adjusted properly for the horse to be able to pull a load.

There has been a resurgence in recent years of using draft animals for farming and recreation. Unfortunately, education in harnessing and using draft horses is no longer as widely available as it was when horses were a primary means of transport. Putting a harness together and adjusting it properly is vital for a horse's comfort and working ability, so it's important to learn how to do it correctly from the start. A poorly adjusted harness can cause pain and harness sores.


Unbuckle the bottom of the leather collar and place it over the base of the horse's neck. Stand on a step stool if the horse is tall. Buckle the bottom so that it lies along the groove of the shoulder. Place the metal hames over the collar and buckle the bottom so the hames fit snugly on the collar.


Place the backpad behind the horse's withers and buckle the attached belly band, called a surcingle. Buckle the crupper, the strap with a loop going under the tail, to the back of the backpad and pass the tail through the crupper's loop. Adjust the crupper to be moderately snug; if it's loose, it may rub under the tail.


Adjust the breeching -- the straps going over and around the horse's hindquarters -- so that it rests just under the point of the horse's buttock, not down where the hindquarters meet the hind leg. The breeching acts as the brakes when the horse stops. Clip the long side straps coming from the corners of the breeching to the bottom of the surcingle.


Buckle the traces -- the heavy straps that will attach to the vehicle or implement -- to the side of the hames. Run the traces through the lazy straps, or loops, attached to the corners of the breeching. Tie the ends of the traces up in a large knot so they do not drag the ground.


Place the bit in the horse's mouth and gently pull the crown of the bridle over its ears. Buckle the noseband under the horse's jaw loosely enough that you can fit two fingers underneath it. Buckle the throatlatch under the horse's throat so that you can fit four fingers underneath. Adjust the buckles holding the blinders apart so that they do not interfere with the horse's eyes or eyelashes.


Hook the overcheck, if there is one, to the hook on the backpad. Adjust it so the horse cannot get its head below its knees to kick or buck. Buckle the reins to the bit rings and run them through the rings on the side of the hames. Do not let them drag the ground.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Draft Horses on the Farm

Draft Horses on the Farm

By Carol Ekarius

Long before there were names like John Deere and Kubota, there were names like Belgian, Clydesdale and Percheron. Animal power had been used for hundreds of years, but during the 19th century, these great horses came into their own, powering a growing nation. Draft horses provided transportation in cities, they helped to build an ever-growing network of railroads, and in agriculture, with new and improved technology—like the iron plow, the McCormick reaper, threshing machines and grain drills—they allowed a farm family to cultivate hundreds of acres of land. By the end of the 19th century, farms would often have 10 or more heavy horses, each working, on average, 600 hours per year. As the 19th century drew to a close, there were over 27,000 purebred drafts, and over 13 million working horses around the country, most with some draft-horse blood bred in for size and might.

The heyday for draft horses was relatively short lived: During World War I, draft horses (and mules) were employed to transport supplies, ammunition and artillery to the front. Of 182,000 draft animals the Americans took with them when they entered the war in 1917, only 200 returned home. To add to their decline, by the 1930s, electric motors and gasoline engines virtually replaced the draft horse in transportation and greatly reduced their numbers in agriculture.

As GIs returned from World War II, there were fewer than 2,000 registered draft horses left in the country, and the future of these hard-working equines looked bleak: Many breed associations ceased operations, and some breeds, like the Suffolk Punch, bordered on the brink of extinction. The 1950s was an especially desperate time for the big breeds, with numbers dropping to all-time lows (as evidenced by the Percherons, with only 58 registrations in 1954, compared to about 3,000 per year at the beginning of the century).

However, in the 1960s and ‘70s, small farmers and hobbyists began viewing working horses with renewed interest, and today, draft horses, from the native American Creams to the mighty Shires, still offer something for small farmers. They’re big, they’re beautiful, they can pull their own weight and as Darrell Van de Hoef, a part-time farmer with 50 acres in Zeeland, Mich., says, “There is something special about sitting on a plow, feeling the power of the horses and listening to the roots snapping off as the plowshare hits them; you can hear the dirt sliding over the plow and the birds singing. Those are experiences you just don’t get with a tractor.” Van de Hoef laughs, “That probably sounds half romantic, and I’m not really the romantic type, but to me that’s the biggest reason for farming with horses.”

In field and forest, the smaller, working equines supply traction, without causing compaction of the soil. They are often seen at special events pulling beautiful carriages and carts, or plying town and city streets, giving tourists a relaxing way to see the sights. And many small-scale farmers are finding them useful as part of agritourismoperations.

David Lynch is a good example of a farmer who has found opportunity and advantage by incorporating draft horses into his operation. He owns Guidestone Farm, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) operation near Loveland, Colo., which supplies raw milk to members (members purchase shares in the dairy herd of 10 Jersey cows), and produces meat and eggs. He is also agricultural director of The Stewardship Community, a nonprofit organization associated with Guidestone that’s dedicated to “providing education in sustainable living skills and teaching where food comes from and what it takes to produce it.”

He uses his three horses, Ike (a Belgian/Clydesdale cross), and Jack and Jake (a team of Belgians), to work in fields and to provide an agritourism component that helps fulfill both the educational mission of the nonprofit and the marketing needs. During special events and school programs, like the pumpkin harvest, visitors are transported around the farm on horse-drawn wagons, thus offering a wonderful experience that helps attract hundreds of visitors to the farm each year. These visitors afford an important income stream, helping the farm to be profitable.

With 150 acres, Lynch still uses tractors for many operations, but he says, “There are some activities we do with horses that I think are simply better for the soil. For example, we have a six-acre vegetable garden, and all of the seeding for cover crops is done with the team, because pulling a heavy-duty seed drill with a big tractor compacts the soil. The horses have an array of niche jobs in the farm program that only they perform.”


See the equipment demonstrated on a variety of breeds of draft horses and mules, some working in the field, and some presented in a parade of breeds. From singles to 12-up hitches, they demonstrate plowing, hay making, planting and many other farm-related activities.

The 2004 event will be held July 1-2 in Middlebury, Ind. For more information, visit www.ruralheritage.com/progress.

But the great thing about draft horses is that they aren’t limited to pulling a plow or a wagon; they can be ridden western or English, with a fair number found in show rings, competing in halter, conformation, dressage or hunter/jumper classes.

Shine Hill Peanut is a Percheron stallion with a logging background who has now entered the world of competition. Professional horsewoman, Dani Schacht, is his current owner. “I’d seen some draft horse/Thoroughbred crosses and I thought I’d really like to have one, because the cross gives the horse a more relaxed attitude, plus they’re much bigger in build, and they’re denser in bone,” says Schacht.

“I went to see Peanut when he was available as a stud. I really liked him, but I didn’t end up breeding my mare to him at the time. Soon after, Peanut’s owner became ill and couldn’t care for all his horses. He remembered me, and how much I liked his stallion, so he sold Peanut and a mare to me.

Schacht quickly discovered what many draft horse aficionados already knew: “They’re surprisingly easy to ride, most of them are laid back in their temperament—compared to a Thoroughbred they’re a piece of cake. They are very smart,very quick learners, and always willing.”

Peanut was jumping cross rails within a couple of weeks after he was broke to ride, and Schacht started showing him within a year. In his first trial, he placed third overall, competing in hunter/jumper, dressage and combined classes.

“When I first started taking him to shows, people pretty much looked at me like, ‘Is this woman crazy?’ They couldn’t believe his size, much less what I was doing with him.” But the skeptics changed their tune when Peanut finished second in the cross-country field, and received a 75 percent score on dressage, which is quite impressive for a training level horse.


•American Cream Draft

American Creams were developed in Iowa in the early years of the 20th century. A medium-sized draft horse, they were bred for farm work. They have a rich cream color, white mane and tail, pink skin and amber-colored eyes. The breed association formed in 1944 with about 40 breeders, but by the 1950s the breed appeared doomed. Yet a very small group of farmers kept breeding and farming with Creams, and in 1982 they restarted the association with help from the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC). Today, over 30 breeders participate in the association, and contribute to keeping this “good dispositioned, willing to work” draft horse breed alive, which is listed as critically threatened by the ALBC.

•Belgian Draft

As its name implies, the Belgians were developed in Belgium. Although an American breed association formed in 1887, it wasn’t until 1903—when the Belgian government sent an exhibit of horses to the St. Louis World’s Fair and the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago—that the breed really began building strong acceptance in the United States. Until World War I, breeders continued actively importing stallions, but as war raged in Europe, American breeders had to confine their breeding programs to native-born stock, thus developing an American strain. Belgians are now the most numerous draft breed in the country. They are primarily chestnut or sorrel, with snow-white manes and tails, a white strip in the face, and four white socks, though they occasionally throw a roan or a bay.


Thanks to Anheuser-Busch using a team of Clydesdales to pull its famous Budweiser hitch, these large draft horses that originated in Scotland are probably the most recognizable draft breed in the country. The most common color in the Clydesdale breed is bay, but they also throw black, brown, chestnut and roan. The preferred markings are four white socks to the knees and hocks, and a well-defined blaze or bald face.

•Irish Draught

Irish Draught horses were traditionally a dual-purpose horse, working during the week on the farm, and then participating in the hunt on the weekend, giving the breed a head start as a show animal. They come in a wide variety of solid colors, and are a medium-sized animal with good action.

•Percheron Tall, Dark and Handsome

Texas is home to short, stout stock horses ... and the World’s tallest horse. Goliath, an 11-year-old Percheron gelding, owned by Priefert Manufacturing in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, towers at 19.1 hands (that’s 6'5") and tips the scales at 2,400 lbs. But it’s his height—not his girth—that landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records last July.

Percherons derive their name from the small French district of La Perche, southeast of Normandy. They’re thought to be one of the first draft breeds to come to America, and remained the most numerous until surpassed by the Belgians after World War I. They are large horses, and are usually black or grey, but there are sorrels, bays and roans as well. They are still widely used by farmers and loggers.


The Shires are the largest draft breed, with stallions reaching 19 hands. They are handsome animals that originated early in England (they were there when Julius Caesar invaded), and were imported to the United States in large numbers during the mid 1800s. Generally black, with white markings, Shires are making a comeback, doing well in the show ring, as well as at work.

•Suffolk Punch

Suffolk Punches were truly bred to be a farmer’s workhorse, known for their great pulling power. The first Suffolks were imported from England in the 1880s, but never caught on in the United States like some of the other breeds, in part because of limited importations. In spite of that, the breed—another critically threatened breed according to ALBC—has received renewed interest, with over 60 breeders around the country working to keep it alive.


“I learned how to shear sheep from a video,” says David Lynch. “I would never, ever, do that again. I did learn the hard way and the sheep learned the hard way. Now if I were going to do it again, I would go get training from someone who knew what they were doing. Finding a mentor for working with horses is even more important than for shearing sheep. Don’t do it by trial and error: There is too much at stake.”

Darrell Van de Hoef agrees, “The old standard advice is, get next to a horse farmer, because there’s so much you need to know that you are only going to learn from somebody who’s doing it. Find an old-timer and pick his brain clean.”

For first-time buyers, consider purchasing a well-trained, older team; these animals can teach you as you begin the journey from novice to accomplished teamster. Experienced teamsters also recommend that you buy your first horses from a private party who will mentor you closely, or seek the help of an experienced teamster in selecting your first horses if you plan to attend a sale barn or auction. “You can get real lucky, or you can get a real disaster-in-waiting at a sale barn,” Van de Hoef says. “An experienced hand will help you make the right choice.”

This article first appeared in the March/April 2004 issue of Hobby Farms magazine. Pick up a copy at your local newsstand or tack and feed store. Click Here to subscribe to HF.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Buy a Shire

by Easy Learn

Owning a cold blood can be a great joy, there are tons of clubs and activities geared around all of the things draft horses excel at doing and there are tons of great breeds to choose from. They generally dislike being terrible fussy under saddle and are relatively easy to train. Many medium sized farms are working land with draft horses again, the cost of equipment and diesel is so high in areas. Logging companies are finding the animals more capable of getting product in and out of tight areas, areas large equipment either can’t or shouldn’t get to in the first place. Draft horses are great drivers, and many of the breeds have a natural high trotting gait that goes beautifully under harness. They are capable of moving great loads over incredible distance at speed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shire Horses

by wisegeek

A Shire horse is a type of a draft horse. Shire horses are famous for being extremely large; the biggest horse on record, Sampson, was a Shire horse. Despite their size, Shire horses are extremely gentle and friendly, and they are famous for standing so quietly in their stalls that mice can nest in the straw, although this may be a bit of hyperbole. This breed of horse can be found in many parts of England and in some other regions of the world as well, where it is primarily kept as a show horse and pet rather than a working animal today.

The lineage of the Shire horse is quite old. These horses are probably descended from the so-called “Great Horse” which was introduced in England in the 11th century by William the Conqueror. These horses formed the foundation for Old English Black horse, a breed which emerged in the 17th century. Although the Old English Black is now an extinct breed, it established a lineage which later developed into both the Clydesdale and Shire horse breeds.

Like other draft horses, the Shire horse is extremely strong, with a compact, muscular body designed for pulling heavy loads. The hindquarters of the Shire horse are massive, providing the kind of power needed to pull heavy loads of beer kegs, timber, and other materials. Shires are also famous for their feathered legs, marked with streams of long hair from knees to ankles, and they have slender, Roman-nosed heads with broad set eyes which some people find quite appealing.

This horse breed has been refined over the centuries to have a very even temperament. Shire horses are incredibly patient, and they are willing to stand for extended periods of time in harness while people make deliveries and load cars. It takes a lot to upset a Shire horse, as well; these horses can work in a wide variety of situations and they are not easily startled. They are also gentle and calm enough to be handled by very young riders and drivers.

Because of their size, Shires are actually a bit challenging to ride. Most Shires are driven, rather than ridden, taking advantage of their centuries of breeding for this very purpose. While it is possible to ride a Shire horse, an extremely wide saddle is needed. Lanky riders sometimes enjoy riding Shires, and they are sometimes used as drum horses in parades and other ceremonial events, in which case they are ridden. A drum horse, as you might imagine, is a horse which carries drums in a parade, along with a rider to play them.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

How to ride a draft horse

by Ehow

Are you looking for a super-sized experience? Try riding a great big land whale. A draft horse is the biggest horse out there. To ride a draft horse is like riding on a giant, moving couch. You have to be ready for some serious leg stretching to get around the hefty bulk of a draft horse's back. Because their bones and feet are so much bigger and heavier than a regular-sized horse, you'll have to adjust to the longer strides and the jarring gaits. The sheer size of the horse is what makes the ride so different so hang on, have fun and wear a helmet.

How to Ride a Draft Horse


Once the draft horse is bridled up, you can ride a draft horse bareback, with a saddle or a bareback pad. It depends on your riding ability or what makes you most comfortable. Some people like stirrups to help them balance while other people like climbing on their draft horse out in the middle of a field bareback in only a halter.


Even if your horse has a saddle, you may need to use a mounting block to get on board. Drafts can measure above 19 hands, and this is a long way up to raise your foot. If you don't have a mounting block, angle your horse next to a low wall, a fence, or a bale of hay to climb up and ease onto his back. If you are riding bareback, you will definitely have to climb on something to get onto his back.


The first thing you will notice is that your legs are almost doing the splits. You'll notice even more when you try and get off your draft for the first time. A draft has a wider body, and your legs will be wider around him. It takes some adjusting, and if you get leg cramps up near your hips, remove your foot from the stirrup and place that leg in front of the saddle for a few minutes to relieve the cramp.


Try out the draft horse at all three gaits: walk, trot and canter. Some drafts have to be really encouraged to canter, with a tap of a riding whip or incessant clucking. If you do get a canter, then hold on, because it can be a bouncy gait with those huge hooves. Especially grab a bunch of mane to keep your balance if you're riding bareback when going from canter to trot because the trot can be extremely bumpy. You don't want to slide off as it's a long way down.


Once you get used to your draft horse's bigger strides, you can relax and enjoy the ride. The great thing about riding a draft is their genuine relaxed attitude and willingness to please. They are a hard-working breed, and even on a relaxed trail ride, they will power forward with a lazy ease.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Buy a Shire from RiceCreekShires.com

If you are thinking about buying a Shire, there are several important points to consider.

- The Shire is the largest horse in the world and therefore needs ample room for both stabling and transportation.

- Being such a big horse, it has an appetite to match, eating more than most other breeds. As it is a cold-blooded breed, it requires a carefully balanced diet, especially regarding concentrates as they can easily make it to grow too quickly.

- What type of Shire do you prefer - broad and thick-set, tall and lean, or tall and thick- set?

- If you want a big tall horse, then buy an adult. Measure the animal yourself as it is not uncommon that an owner may exaggerate the height at the withers. A stallion that is said to be 18 hh may actually be `only´ 17.3 hh. There aren’t as many Shires over 18hh (183cm) as one might think. When it comes to foals and young horses, there isn’t any reliable way to determine the final adult height. Several factors, such as the environment, heritability, diet and care, determine how big a horse will grow.

There are many ways to estimate adult height but often it doesn’t turn out as expected. Smaller horses can produce larger offspring and a big mare can produce a little foal.

You need to find out if there is a blacksmith in your neighbourhood who knows how to shoe Shires. Hooves need careful and regular attention as they are prone to cracking. Read more about this under “hoof-link” in the menu. You should also find out if you can obtain shoes to fit your horse. They are not available everywhere.

Tack may be another problem, e.g. extra wide saddles, long girths, extra large bridles, long bits, and specially made harness. These are available, but at a price.

When you have thought this over and dealt with the problems, the next step is to visit Shire horse breeders and brokers - even abroad. 

Shire horses are known to be calm and easy to handle, but each has its own individual personality and background which together form the horse´s disposition.

Get to know it and find out as much as you can about it -

- by being with it

- by handling it

- by lifting its feet

- run your hands over its legs, sinews and joints (if you´re unsure, ask an experienced person to help you)

- watch the horse´s gait and movements

- if possible, meet the horse´s `family´ and offspring. Look for likenesses; for instance, if the dam of the horse you are inspecting has a defect, check that this has not been passed on

- question the owner at length – every answer (or lack of one) can tell you something.

Making a purchase based on a photo is a risky business - you may be overlooking vital information about the horse, as the examples above can suggest. Would you buy a car just by looking at a photo? The paintwork might be first class, but the engine worn out.

We recommend that you visit several Shire breeders and view different horses, even if you´ve already decided upon a particular horse. This will give you a broader perspective and that may make the difference between a successful purchase and an embarrassing loss.

Find out -

- if the horse has been regularly vaccinated and de-wormed

- if it is registered

- if it has been shown

- if it has been ridden or been driven

- if it has foaled

- if it has had any problems or shown any defects

- if it has a complete pedigree

Of course the horse should be examined by a veterinary surgeon and insured. If you are buying a more expensive horse you could even consider having it X-rayed, which might reveal unseen faults.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shire Horse

by The Equinest


Descendant from the English Great Horse of the Middle Ages, the Shire horse is among the largest of the draft breeds .Origins

Appearing in Britan around the end of the 16th century when strong animals were needed to pull heavy wagons and coaches long distances over rough terrain. The Shire derived from blood of forest horses, and Fresian and Flanders horse imports.

The English Great horse is still considered the Shire horse’s principle ancestor, although its bloodlines were slowly reduced in the stock as the influx of Dutch Fresian blood grew stronger.

Modern Shire horses are renowned for their strength, a pair of Shire horses have pulled 16.5 tons of weight on granite paving tiles.


Average height Over 17 hands

Extremely large animals

Incredible pulling strength

One of the biggest horses in the world


Long neck for a draft horse, with wide shoulders

Legs are clean and muscular, hocks set for maximum leverage

Heavy feathering on back of legs

Big, round hooves

Traditional Colors



Big and gentle, the Shire is a docile giant


General riding

Show horses

Parade horse

Just an example of the lovely Shires that we have for sale at RiceCreekShires.com.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why are shire horses endangered?

by Wikianswers

•Are shire horses endangered?

Yes, because of their large size many people don't want them any longer. People tend to buy more athletic, lighter horses. However, I will always prefer a shire :)

•Why is a shire horse called a shire horse?

The shire horse is named a shire horse because it originated in the shire counties of England.

•Why horses are in endangered?

Horses themselves are not endangered but certain species are. Australia is home to the most wild horses in the world. They are brumbies, they are an official breed however, the other small percentage...

•When is a horse in endangered?

It depends where the horse is if it is in the wildlife it would be more endangered than a farm or ranch. Horses don't really get indangered because people don't want to kill them like with cows for...

•Why are horses endangered?

Probably mostly because horses today are used mostly for riding, not for breeding.

Why not keep the Shire bloodlines strong? We have lovely Shires for sale at Rice Creek Shires.com

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How to Buy a Draft Horse

The draft horse has a famously laid back personality and makes a great all around horse for the entire family to enjoy. Whether it's a lazy ride out on the trail, some arena work or time under harness driving through the countryside, if you buy a draft, you'll feel like you have a giant, sweet dog living out in your pasture. Drafts do eat a bit more than a regular sized horse and they need larger tack and horseshoes, if you choose to shoe. But they are worth all the super-sized equipment, because they bring a gentle attitude and a good, dependable work ethic.

Buy a wonderful Shire from RiceCreekShires.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Draft Horses Used to Lay Fiber-Optic Cable

by slashdot

"In Vermont, FairPoint Communications has enlisted draft horses to help lay fiber-optic cable in remote locations. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has pledged to bring broadband to every last mile by 2013, including many remote areas that have been neglected in the past. Private companies have been unwilling to invest in the expensive infrastructure needed to reach these areas. However, Vermont's congressional delegation helped to secure $410 million in federal money earmarked for broadband development and Vermont has partnered with private companies, like FairPoint, to bring high-speed Internet access to all Vermonters. From the article: 'The difficulty of getting cable to "every last mile," is where Fred, the cable-carrying draft horse, comes in. "Hopefully it pays off," says Hastings. "We could maybe get a four-wheeler in here," he continues, gesturing to the cleared swath of boggy, fern-studded terrain that he's working in today. But definitely not a truck, and Fred's impact is nearly invisible. Residents rarely complain about a draft horse tromping through their yards.'"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Buying Draft Horses on the 'Net

by Lorri Robinson

What can you gain by using the Internet, instead of the more traditional avenues to draft horse ownership?

You are able to look for draft horses anywhere in the world, at any time of day.

You aren't restricted to horses available in your immediate area.

You save money by not having to make long distance calls until you're ready to deal.

You make fewer trips to inspect horses, instead of spending weeks going to farm after farm.

From the comfort of your home you are able to do a lot of research you may not have otherwise do.

You can take your time.

You met lots of wonderful people you might never otherwise have know.

But in many ways, buying a draft horse over the Internet is like buying a horse any other way. You still need to:

Do your homework before you buy.

Ask questions about breeding, training, and temperament.

Obtain photos and videos.

Be critical with the photos and videos—if anything bothers you, address the issue in your next email or phone call.

Get a pre-purchase vet exam.

When you find a horse you are genuinely interested in, send a refundable deposit.

If you are serious and can arrange it, go see the animal before making a commitment.

Lorri Robinson of Monticello, Georgia, wrote about her experience "Buying Horses in Cyberspace" in the Winter 1999 issue of Rural Heritage.

If you are interested in buying Shires, please contact us at Rice Creek Shires.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Get A Load of This! Bent Creek Shade Rock #S59584

How about using draft horses for pulling competitions?

Written by by Lynn Telleen

It likely started with a dirty look. Then, maybe a gesture, possibly obscene. Finally, one farmer told the other that his team was nothing compared to his own. Off came the gloves and, of course, this led to a bet and the competition to end all doubts. What and how much they pulled is anyone's guess. Where and when it took place is "sketchy," but most accounts place it here in the good, ol' U.S.A.

Regardless of the lack of historical records, the sport of horse pulling is bigger today than it has ever been. There are more pulls in more states; the horses are better, the training, feed and conditioning regimens are more advanced and, consequently, the loads being pulled are heavier each year. On September 23, 2003, two different heavyweight teams both broke the record for a load at the Hillsdale County Fair, Hillsdale, Michigan, with full distance pulls of 27-1/2 feet lugging 4,675 lbs. The entries of Jerald Keegan and Ken Heightchew, Reading, Michigan, share the title with Ray Powell and Sons, Newcastle, Kentucky. The record they broke (4,650 lbs. by Boomer Clark, Belfast, New York) only stood one year. Many other records have been broken in the past decade. Those in the know expect more of the same in our near future.

The demand for top pullers, too, has skyrocketed. It is not uncommon for the best pullers to sell for $30,000 or more–or for mere weanlings to bring thousands. No doubt about it–horse pulling has reached a new pinnacle, and it is here to stay.

If you know anything at all about pulling horses, you know that "all the best ones come from Daviess County, Indiana" ... well, mostly. J. Cary Hall of Sadieville, Kentucky (population 170), might disagree just a little. The 65-year-old, better known as "Shady," is the breeder, owner and primary cheerleader of a coming 9-year-old Belgian stallion that is steadily and conclusively creating a name for himself in the pulling scene.

Genetics is everything–in cattle, swine, poultry, flowers, hitch horses ... why would it be any different for pulling horses? It isn't, but as Shady explains, until recently, [most] horse pullers did not pay much attention to pedigrees. Only in the past decade or so, did they start to take notice of the bloodlines that emphasized and intensified a horse's strength and agility–which factors heavily into their ability to pull heavy loads short distances.


Speaking of genetics, when I asked Cary how he got the nickname, Shady, he said it came from his dad. The elder Shady was a tobacco farmer near Georgetown, Kentucky. He farmed with horses until Cary was about 12 years old. In that area and time, a tobacco grower would sell his crop at an auction warehouse. As a 16-year-old, Cary took a weekend job at one of those warehouses for a man named C.V. Ethington. "I ended up working for him for 25 years," he recalls. "When I was 20 years old, my dad got killed in a farming accident. After that, Ethington called me 'Little Shady.'"

He explains that his father was a large man–6'-5" tall and wore a size 54 sport coat. Though he can't verify it, Cary assumes that folks called his dad "Shady" because of the considerable shadow he cast. Over the years, "Little Shady" was shortened to just "Shady" and it stuck. Today, he even signs his checks with just that one word: "Shady."

A neighbor and friend of the elder Shady, Billy Green, proved to be a positive influence on the younger Shady. Cary refers to him not only as one of his mentors, but as a "real teamster that pulled horses." Billy would let Cary work with his teams and he taught the youngster how to mouth a horse, to shoe and to adjust harness and fit collars. "Billy tried to make a first-class horseman out of me," he recalls. "When I was old enough to have a car and was dating, if I happened by his place and he was out hitching, I'd stop, get out and hook for him. There'd be dust all over me when I showed up for my date. By the time I got out of high school, I was pulling horses with Billy. He, and my experiences with him, really taught me a lot. He was the Will Rogers of our little crossroads community."

From the early 1960s to the early '70s, Shady pulled and broke horses. He married Janice, his high school sweetheart, in 1963 and they had two children. Shady then got BIG into farming (3,000 to 5,000 acres), including 140 to 150 acres of tobacco, running a cow-calf operation and a feedlot, not to mention the raising of his young family. He got too busy for horse pulling and gave up the sport ... gave up draft horses altogether. After four bad droughts in five years, he started a trucking company in 1983 (which he named "Shady Creek Trucking," in honor of his dad). That business is going strong today.

"It was the late '80s before I stopped farming on such a large scale," he explains. "Then I really wanted to get back into draft horses. I bought a pair of geldings to work around the farm. Then Janice and I went to a farm sale to buy a wagon. Instead, we found seven starved mares at the auction. We bought five of them, got them home and poured the groceries to them."

This got Cary even more interested and he bred the mares ... and bought others. In the mid-'90s, Don Raider, who has served as yet another of Shady's mentors, took Hall to Daviess County, Indiana. "Don told me that if I liked to raise colts, I should raise pulling colts." Hall started buying pulling-type mares and thus, began his career breeding Belgian horses of the pulling variety.

In 2000, he bred his mare Shirley's Queen to C.D.'s Rock Supreme (Spring 2004 DHJ). Rock Supreme, bred by Johnny Wagler Jr., stood 18 hh and weighed in at 2,150 lbs. Shirley's Queen stood 18.2 hh and weighed 2,280 lbs. She came by her size honestly. Lisa's Patrick, her paternal grandsire, was a huge horse that had stood in Daviess County. Her maternal grandsire was Grange's Pete Farceur. Larry and Ben Reed used a son of the horse to produce a lot of good pullers. Pete was by Big Ben Farceur, who was aptly named weighing in at 2,800 lbs!

Pullers know C.D.'s Rock Supreme, unquestionably one of the greatest pulling sires ever, like hitchmen know Korry's Captain and halter fans know Jay-Lou-Supreme. Rock's maternal grandsire was Orndorff's Conqueror Supreme. His paternal grandsire was Sunny Lane Farceur and his maternal great-grandsire was Sparrow's Lionel Resque. A great-great-grandsire is Duke Farceur II, who stood at Charlie and Ralph House's for a spell. Do you think Charlie Orndorff, Herbert and Don Schneckloth, Ross and Dick Sparrow or Charlie and Ralph House ever tried to raise a pulling horse? Not likely, but as Shady points out, they did try to raise good, big horses.

"The specialization that exists today in draft horses was grossly absent some 40 years ago," he observes. As some breeders concentrated on producing taller, high-stepping, long-necked hitch horses, others went for the wide-chests, ample girth and substantive hind quarters favored by pullers. In both camps, the gene pools became (and are becomeing) ever more concentrated. Shady is concerned for the future.

There are actually nine C.D. Rock Supreme sons standing for stallion service today. All are tightly bred, with one exception. Shady's mare, Shirley's Queen, doesn't descend from Rock or King, as the majority of today's pulling stock does.

Shirley's foal arrived on March 28, 2001, and was registered as Bent Creek Shade Rock. He was big and correct. A few months later, as a weanling, he was running with one other stud colt. "Don Raider was up and wanted to buy the other one," recalls Shady. "When I told him I was planning to keep Shade Rock for a stud, he said I should cut him because he was 'the wrong color (a bit of roan) and his head was too big!'"

Jim, the other colt (whom Raider bought), ended up in the successful Heightchew & Humphrey team that won Versailles, Owenton, Nicholasville, Cynthiana, Taylorsville & Harrodsburg last year. As for Shade Rock, he consumed the groceries and grew up ... intact.

In 2003, Shady's herd sire Cracker's Red George suffered a heart attack and died. The horse was just nine years old and it was a real kick in the pants to the Halls, as George had been siring some very good pulling colts–such as Cracker, owned by Ingram Wessell, Norland, Ontario, Canada; and Coley, that Jim Bob Adams used to win the Indiana State Fair pull with the last two years. This left Shady with few options, so he bred Shade Rock to two registered mares and one grade. Though Shade Rock was just two years old, he stood 17.3 hh and tipped the scales at 1,800 lbs. At any rate, Shade Rock received an early and unexpected promotion to "senior herd sire" status.

Shade Rock's first colt, C.D. Cracker Berry, was sold at the 2004 Southern Indiana-Daviess County Sale, consigned by J.R. Adams and Willard Wagler. The catalog listed the colt as "a stud prospect" and he fetched $4,000 at just three-and-a-half months of age. Out of a Homestead's Cracker Supreme daughter owned by J.R., the colt was bought by Jeff, Mike and Brent Wagler, Montgomery, Indiana. Today the horse is five years old and the Wagler Bros. are standing him at stud in Daviess County.

Willard Wagler (Jeff, Mike and Brent's father) says there are about 10 mares in foal to Cracker Berry for 2010. The Waglers are quite happy with his foals so far and are not having any difficulties finding buyers for them. Willard is a part-owner of C.D. Cracker Jack, the 3/4-brother to Cracker Berry that sold for $16,000 as a weanling. (In case you were wondering, the other members of the "syndicate" that own Cracker Jack include Rick Lowery, Mary Raider, Jim Knepp, Harry Knepp, John Wagler Jr., Vick Lengacher, and–get this–Shady Hall!) Willard concedes that his sons' horse is taller and longer in the back than Jack, but both studs are "siring the right kind."

Berry was the ONLY Shade Rock offspring to ever sell at public auction. All others have been sold right off the farm. "When I started raising pulling colts," explains Shady, "I knew that for my foals to be seen by the right people–the people looking for this kind of horse, that there were three places a man had to have them: JoJo Duvall and Glen Russelburg, Beaver Dam, Kentucky, are visited by all the pullers of the Midwest and South; all of the East Coast pullers come and go at Danny and Mose Hershberger's, Fredericksburg, Ohio; and everybody from every place comes to Vick and Marvin Lengacher's, Montgomery, Indiana when the Daviess County Sales (the most prominent pulling horse markets in North America) are going on."

Are Shade Rock offspring resident at these three farms, you ask? All three. "Fifty percent of the battle is putting good colts in good hands," sums up Shady.

There are a lot of reasons for the resident horses at JoJo Duvall's place to be examined by tons of pullers. She and Glen Russelburg organize and host the annual Bluegrass Draft Horse and Mule Championship, the largest single-day pull in the U.S., boarding many of the entrants headed to and from the event. They also host a party the night before the pull that draws upwards of 200 people–and specifically, the type of people that would take an interest in pulling colts and their backgrounds.

In addition, JoJo and Glen run Community Equine Supply, specializing in vitamins for pulling horses and mules. This, too, brings the "right kind" of horse person around. And lastly, they live just two miles off the Wendell Ford Parkway, handy for anyone in the area.

Brothers Danny and Mose Hershberger have three Shade Rock sons, one of which they are standing at stud. Marvin Lengacher has a yearling son of Shade Rock. And it doesn't stop there.

Greg and Amy Kelly, Braeside, Ontario, Canada, are relatively new to the pulling scene. Though Greg has been involved with horses since he was a kid, he started pulling just eight years ago. Amy says, "He has always been interested in raising his own horses, but has found that many of the horses around here are from show operations and do not have the 'body' Greg likes for pulling horses.

"In the fall of 2007, Greg called Cary, because he had an ad for a colt in The Draft Horse Journal that Greg liked the looks of. Our first colt from Cary is not by Shade Rock. We went down to pick up the colt and saw Shade Rock 'in person.' Greg instantly liked him and told Cary to keep him in mind when there were colts available from him.

"The following fall, Cary called, saying that he had some Shade Rock colts ready and he sent us some pictures. Greg called and said he was very interested in one. He went down a few weeks later to pick him up.

"Greg has long term plans of breeding his mares with this colt and raising pulling stock. He has some pretty fair mares and he has pulled a couple of them in the past." Greg is realistic in that he does not expect any immediate returns, but feels that having a Shade Rock son will pay off in the years to come.

Jeremy Johnson, Westmoreland, Kansas, is a happy return buyer to Bent Creek Farm. Shady sold him a half-brother to Shade Rock, then found him three mares in Daviess County. Jeremy has since returned for a pair of young geldings, including a Shade Rock son that he plans to pull with his original horse. "I saw Cary’s ad in The Draft Horse Journal and called him," says Jeremy. "The reason I chose to buy from him is because I knew he had raised several good horses. I have been very happy with all the horses I have bought from Cary."

Of his Shade Rock son, he says, "I’m excited about Tim because I know he is going to be big and poweful. I've sent him to the Amish here in Kansas the last two summers. They really like him. I won’t start pulling him for at least another year to give him time to finish growing. There’s not a lot of horses with these bloodlines in our area, so I’m looking forward to start pulling them."

Bryan Davis, Grinnell, Iowa, bred a home-raised mare to Shade Rock last year. "We already own two grandsons of C.D. Rock that we are pulling. And we know that Shade Rock’s offspring are pullers. A very large percentage of them are becoming pulling horses, or are raising pullers. He is retaining some of the older-style conformation, which we happen to like. I wanted to raise either a filly to retain for our herd and breed to our stud, or a colt to use on our mares. We are trying to strengthen our herd on the pulling side. We already have decent pulling blood through our current stud, Bry-Don’s Jaysen. Shade Rock is not only big, but conformationaly sound, and since he is roan, he will help us retain the dark red in the colts we are raising. He has a very strong mare line behind him on both sides."

Bryan's mare, Bry-Don’s Supreme Maggie, stands 18 hh and weighs 2,200 lbs. He describes her as "dark red, very clean and smooth, with tremendous bottoms." Her 2009 Shade Rock foal was a filly that Bryan describes as "looking very good. Shelly is a very nice red sorrel, white mane and tail, and white blaze, and is very conformationally correct–good hocks and extremely good-footed for a weanling, and most importantly, she is very level headed." So good, that he bred the mare back, in addition to another mare, Bry-Don’s Kayla, a daughter of Kauffman’s Klancy (1992 Reserve All-American Stud Foal).

"We are very happy with what Jaysen and our brood mares are producing," admits Bryan, "but as with any good breeding operation, you have to bring a new horse in somewhere. We think that Shade Rock is a very good fit for our herd. His offspring are speaking for themselves."

So which mare lines are emerging as the best cross(es) for Shade Rock? No simple answer exists, Janice Hall explains, "A large percentage of pulling horses go back to the Sunny Lane family, particularily those in Daviess County, Indiana. Our 18 brood mares descend from the proven bloodlines of Blondie III, One-Eyed Bill, Dolly Buck, Cracker's Red George, King and C.D.'s Rock Supreme. They range from 17 to 18 hh and weigh from 1,700 to 2,200 lbs., yet are feminine in conformation.

"To say which of these crosses is likely to produce a record-breaking puller is no different than trying to breed a Kentucky Derby winner–the pedigree and conformation of the animal are important, but so are the unknowns of heart and training!

"Bred to these mares, Shade Rock has produced sizable colts with qualities we think are relevant to the continued success of the Belgian breed. But like any athlete, the horse’s influence as a puller may depend on the abilities and skill of the handler or teamster."

JoJo Duvall applauds the Halls. "Shady and Janice are both knowledgeable about pulling horses and pedigrees," she says. "They are great promoters of the breed, they have worked very hard to develop the breeding program they have and I wish them all the success in the world."


Today, Shade Rock stands 18 hh and weighs in at 2,300 lbs. He wears a 32-inch collar and, in Shady's terms, is "the pride of the farm." Shady has 13 of his own mares in foal to Shade Rock for 2010. He says two or three are already spoken for. The others will likely take care of themselves.

Harry Knepp, Plainville, Indiana, confirms, "Shade Rock is a big horse with a deep girth, he stands square and is cornered out well. He has a little snap to him, but he's not too aggressive–he has a very good disposition. He consistently throws colts with size and his good disposition when bred to good mares."

With just 35 registered foals on the ground (and two grades), Shade Rock is definitely an open book–open to an early chapter, no less. But his fan club is growing and includes some heavy hitters. Highly respected horseman, plowing match champion and horse farmer, Charlie Orme, Mount Sterling, Kentucky, included. He is expecting four foals by the horse in 2010–and Charlie owns his own stallion! "Shade Rock is an outstanding stallion, with size and the kind of disposition you want in a pulling horse," he says. "I expect he'll make as much or more of an impact on the pulling industry as his sire did."

You have to admit–there's a heck of a big shadow being cast across the future of the horse pulling industry ... and its source ... well, that's a smidge south of Daviess County, Indiana.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Interesting Facts about Shires

Shires--Eastern Connecticut Shire Association

Shire ancestry dates back as far as the Roman Conquest of England. They are a solidly built horse with long legs, prolific feathering, and move in a very flashy manner. They come in all solid colors, as well as grey and roan. Although white legs is common, white above the knee and hocks is generally frowned upon. At one time, they were considered to be the largest horses in the world, with some individuals standing better than 19HH and weighing in at over 2200 pounds. The largest horse on record, according to Rural Heritage, a magazine dedicated to the working draft and oxen, was a Shire named Samson. He stood 21.2 1/2 HH, and weighed in at 3,360 pounds. Although all the other draft breeds can boast of individuals of huge weights and heights, this horse, measured in the year 1850, continues to tower over them all.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Forest preserve district to buy draft horses?

Board members debate purchase for Ellis Equestrian Center

by Matt Schury


The Kendall County Forest Preserve District Board is considering purchasing two draft horses for operations at the Ellis Equestrian Center at 13986 McKanna Road near Minooka.

The horses would be used to pull hay wagons and a fancy cart for wedding parties, says Jason Pettit Kendall County Forest Preserve Director.

"Obviously we are looking to get as many people down there as possible and the draft horses would give us a little versatility to do that sort of thing," Pettit said.

The facility currently has six riding horses and a pony.

Julie Helicker, site supervisor for Ellis, says the bigger horses could also be used to give rides to larger adult riders.

According to Pettit, the district could purchase the horses from an auction this fall in Indiana and Iowa, which would be a little cheaper but would add the cost of transporting the animals.

Ideally, Pettit said, the district is hoping to find a local pair of horses that would be less expensive.

Pettit mentioned that there was a recommendation at a recent forest preserve committee meeting not to exceed a price of $6,000 for the horses. The Forest Preserve District Board has yet to vote on the matter.

Pettit says the draft horses were included as part of the original plan for Ellis and Helicker said there is room in the stable for the two extra horses.

Helicker estimates the price for a farm bred draft horse at $1,500 to $2,500 each. She mentioned that ideally the horses would be five to 12 years old and would be about 17 hands or 68 inches tall and 2,000 pounds.

"The draft horses don't last as long as the riding horses so that's why I'm looking for a younger horse," Helicker said. "They are a larger breed of horse and they are built to pull loads."

The horses could live 20 to 25 years, depending on how hard they are worked, while riding horses can be useful for up to 30 years, Helicker said.

Less expensive, more local

The Forest Preserve District Board took up the issue for the first time during their meeting last week.

Board member Suzanne Petrella says she is attempting to get more information from the local horse community.

"I was going to contact those people to get more information about less expensive draft horses," Petrella said. "It's not that I'm for or against it's just that it would be less expensive and more local."

Board member John Purcell said that he was not in favor of the draft horses and instead the district needs to concentrate on the facility.

"I have a real concern we are going to have a negative fund balance at the end of the year and then we are going to sit there and scratch our heads and say 'How did this happen?'" Purcell said. "I'd just rather put the kibosh on this right now."

The funds to buy the horses would come from the district's general operations fund and not the bond money approved for capital improvements.

"Our budget going into this year for the forest preserve was going to take the fund balance of the forest preserve down substantially and we are not even close on the revenue side," Purcell said.

Petrella said that part of the reason it makes sense to look into buying the horses is that the district already purchased the cart for weddings.

"Just because they got an expensive cart-it can sit there I don't need to put another $5,000 into horses plus the feed they are going to eat," Board member Bob Davidson said.

Board member Nancy Martin told the board she had a problem with the amount of money they keep putting into Ellis.

"We keep saying we need to buy more things for revenue because of Ellis," Martin said. "You know Ellis is a beautiful place but we already sunk far more money into it than we ever thought we were going to and forest preserves aren't supposed to be about making money."

She added that she couldn't understand why they bought a cart and that the forest preserve could use a tractor to pull a hayrack for hay rides instead of horses.

Board member Jessie Hafenrichter countered that it wouldn't hurt for Pettit and Petrella to look into what the horses would cost.

"We are all talking about we can't afford and we don't even know what it is we can't afford," Hafenrichter said. "I mean knowledge can't hurt you. We don't have to buy it just because we find out."

'It's picking up'

The Ellis Equestrian Center opened last July and, according to numbers provided by Helicker, about 2,212 people have visited since then.

Between January and June this year about 1,214 people have gone to Ellis, half of them taking riding lessons. The other half were casual visitors and those attending events like the Earth Day expo and pony ride day.

Pettit said that overall the facility seems to be on an upward climb when it comes to attendance.

"It's picking up." Pettit said. "It's not like we are flooded with business but the house is definitely getting more attention."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Reasons for buying draft horses.

by Animaroo.com

We all know that draft horses are usually placed in the category of heavy horses because of their bulky physic. During the era of pre-industrialization, draft horses and their crossbreeds were used for doing heavy tasks such as plugging farms and transporting weighty goods from one place to the other. Though there are numerous kinds of draft horses, all of them share mutual characteristics. However, their outer appearance diversely varies from one another. Today, draft horses are mostly used for joy rides as well as an earnings medium in the field of transportation. Nowadays, we are able witness draft horses that are lighter in size.

Because of their performance capabilities, draft horses are one of the most desired horses by people from all walks of life. Hence, the mission of finding draft horses on sale is considered problematic. Nonetheless, with the advancement in technologies, internet has served as an ideal source for finding draft horses on sale.

Before you make up your mind on buying a draft horse form sale, make sure that you have adequate money to support its maintenance. These gentle animals generally eat more than the other breeds of horses. Although their initial needs are larger, you will love them for their temperament and cool attitude.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mommy and stud colt

Interested in purchasing Shire horses? Please contact Rice Creek Shires.

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Colt

Here's our new colt here at Rice Creek Shires. Interested in purchasing a Shire horse? Come visit our website http://www.RiceCreekShires.com

Friday, October 28, 2011

Looking at Draft Horse Riding

By Marilyn Witt

Although they were specifically bred to pull a plow or a carriage, you may be surprised to find that large draft horses can be ridden as well! Draft horses are known for their heavy build and impressive strength, but this does not work against them at all when it comes to riding for pleasure or even for competition. Many draft horses are used in trail riding and with proper training, they do very well in dressage competition as well. Despite their large size, they can move very lightly and be very responsive to signals from their rider. It is generally believed that with the right training, any draft horse may be ridden, although their larger girth can be a little uncomfortable for a rider who is not used to them.

If you own a young draft horse and are looking into training it for riding, you need to keep in mind that they do not develop like quarter horses. Their size alone makes them a lot different from the lighter breeds that were bred with riding or dressage in mind, and their bones are simply slower to mature. Remember that their spine does not close until sometime in their fifth year, and many trainers tend to stay away from riding them before that point. Before training them for the saddle however, they can still be trained for bathing, and for gentleness when their feet are handled. Just spending time with your horse in terms of leading, driving and lunging will help get them to a place where they are going to be much more prepared for the saddle.

A draft horse has many advantages when you are thinking about riding. Their large size can make their movement particularly smooth, and their gentle and docile temperament make them a real winner when it comes to how well they handle new riders. Do remember that you might need to do some leg stretches if you are planning for a long session in the saddle; their increased girth is going to take some getting used to. If you are looking to ride your draft horse, always make sure that you do a wither tracing before you purchase a saddle. Too many people end up with a saddle that pinches or is otherwise uncomfortable for both horse and rider otherwise.

When you are looking at riding draft horses, you may be wondering what breeds are available. As mentioned above, as long as they have been trained to it, draft horses can make great riding horses. Belgians are definitely a popular breed for riding, as are Percherons and Clydesdales. Gypsy Vanners are also quite popular where they can be found, as are Shire horses. These horses were all bred to pull and to drag rather than to ride, but this may not always have been the case. Percherons, for example, are thought to be the modern descendants of the destriers that carried knights to war during the Middle Ages.

What distinguishes riding a draft horse from riding a normal horse? The first thing that most draft horse riders will point you towards is the power. There is an amazing lot of muscle on the frame of a draft horse, and when they have a rider on their back, their endurance is impressive. Clydesdales especially have a reputation for being excellent to ride. They have an impressively fluid gait, and their strength serves them well without getting in the way.

While the steadiness and patience of a draft horse make it an instant favorite for trail riding, you may be a little surprised to hear that they do very well in dressage competition as well. Clydesdales and Belgians especially make an impressive showing in the dressage ring, and their owners swear that they have an heightened capacity to learn. One example of their biddable nature and rock-steady temperament is their presence in mounted police. They are also highly sought out when disabled people are interested in riding.

Take some time and consider whether you are interested in draft horse riding. This is a sport that is seeing more and more usage, and if you are interested, start searching for a venue where you can give it a shot. Draft horses are willing and loving animals, and you may find that they are a perfect match for you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The magnificent Shire is powerful and muscular, and is the tallest breed of horse!

Author: Joan Childs

A true "gentle giant", the Shire is renowned for its docile temperament and strong work ethic. From battlefield to farmland, this noble horse has been a well mannered servant and faithful companion. The Shire's great ancestors came from the "Old English Black Horse" of the central regions of England, counties commonly referred to as the "shires".

Though its ancestry dates back to the Great Horses of the Medieval era, its use throughout history is one of aiding in the civilization of modern man. In the twelfth century, these heavy cob type horses were used as warhorses. Being strong and docile they were well suited to carrying the three hundred or so pounds of a fully armored knight into battle. Then farmers found their worth, being able to pull farm equipment and clear marshlands.

As the industrial age embarked, Shire horses were the original breed used to pull carts to deliver ale from the breweries. They have also been used in the United Kingdom as ceremonial drum horses in many royal processions. The Drum Horses lead the Household Calvary, ridden by drummers who work the reins with their feet while holding drumsticks in their hands.

Horse Breeds

The Shire is a Draft Horse or Heavy horse. The Draft horse is also known as the Draught Horse or Dray Horse. 'Dray' is a word derived from the Anglo-Saxon term for 'to haul' or 'to draw'.
The heavier draft horses were developed from the bulkier type of equines found in the northern hemisphere. These hardy horses evolved to survive in a colder harsher climate, and are much heavier and broader than the light horses. The breeds in this horse class are referred to as cold blood breeds, in reference to their quiet and calm temperament. They are heavy in the body, strong legged, and often have "feathers", or long hair, covering their large hooves.

Horse Backgrounds

Robert Blackwell, a well known English livestock breeder began breeding shires in the mid 1700's. The earliest recorded shire stallion was the Packington Blind Horse, born in 1755. This horse's great ancestors came from the "Old English Black Horse" of the central regions of England, counties commonly referred to as the "shires".
It is recorded that from 1199 to 1216, "one hundred stallions of large stature" were imported from Holland to breed with the stout cob type local mares of the midland counties of England. There, these heavy cob type horses were used by the knights in the twelfth century as warhorses. Their great strength and docile nature made them well suited to carry a fully armored knight weighing some three hundred pounds into battle.
Henry the eighth is credited with first applying the name "Shire" to these warhorses in the early 1500's. He was determined to exploit the great worth of the Shire as a warhorse, and in 1535 passed a law prohibiting the breeding of any horse less than 15 hands high.
The invention of gunpowder in the sixteenth century changed the fate of the Shire. Smaller, quicker horses were needed in battle, and the number of these giant horses began to decline. Soon, however farmers discovered their worth as a farm animal and the numbers rebounded as they pulled farm equipment and helped clear marshland. The protective heavy hair on the Shires feet and legs were a useful adaptation to the farm work for which they were utilized.
With the industrial age the Shire became valued for its ability to pull heavy loads of goods from the docks and the breweries to the warehouses and shops in the city. In 1878 the English Cart Horse Society was formed and established a stud book in 1880. In 1884, the name Shire Horse Society was adapted. American export began in the mid 1800's, and The American Shire Horse Association was established in 1885; the Canadian Shire Association in 1888.


The Shire is the tallest breed of horse. This breed holds a place in the Guinness book of world records for the biggest horse; Sampson stood 21.2 �½ hands high when he was four years old in 1848, and weighed approximately 3,300 pounds. Most Shire stallions average 17.2 hands high and weigh upwards of one ton, with mares being about one hand smaller.
The breed standard states, "...a good Shire Stallion should stand from 17.0 hands upwards... without being overdone in condition. He should possess a masculine head and a good crest with sloping… shoulders running well into the back, which should be short and well coupled with the loins. The tail should be well set up… Both head and tail should be carried erect. The ribs should be well sprung, not flat sided, with good middle which generally denotes good constitution. A Stallion should have good feet and joints; the feet should be wide and big around the top of the coronets with sufficient length in the pasterns. When in motion, he should go with force using both knees and hocks, … he should go straight and true before and behind. A Mare should be on the quality side, long and deep with free action, of a feminine and matronly appearance, standing from 16 hands and upwards on short legs; …. A Gelding should be upstanding, thick, well-balanced… and should look like and be able to do a full day's work".

Horse Care and Feeding

Shire horses are big eaters and should have plenty of fresh hay and clean water available. They have feathered ankles, making good grooming and sanitary conditions essential to avoid pododermititis, or "scratches" (a bacterial infection of the ankle).
The Shire horses are large and need adequate room to move around. If kept in stalls, be sure the stalls are large and well bedded enough to be comfortable for the horse.

Horse Training and Activities

This horse is noted for a quiet and calm temperament. Its great strength and docile nature makes horse training for this breed suitable in a variety of disciplines beyond just horse riding. well suited for many disciplines. The Shire has been successful in driving, jumping, dressage, and trail riding; all due to its tractable nature and trainability.

Common Health Problems

Although relatively rare, the Shire is one of the breeds more prone to a condition known as PSSM or Polysaccharide storage myopathy, commonly referred to as "shivers". Symptoms of this condition, neurological in nature, include spasms in the hind limbs and difficulty in backing up. Often the symptoms can be managed with diet, but in extreme conditions the horse cannot raise its hind legs for hoof care and one or both the hind legs spasm when it begins moving. Extreme cases can be career ending, if not fatal.


Shire horses can be found on the internet. Many horses for sale ranging from approximately $2,500 to $20,000 USD depending on age, training, and bloodlines.


Judith Dutson, Storey's Illustrated Guide to 96 Horse Breeds of North America, Storey Publishing, LLC, 2005
Corinne Clark, A Pocket Guide to Horses and Ponies , Parragon Inc., 2007
American Shire Horse Association
Shire Horse Society, www.shire-horse.org/uk
2008 Feedstuffs Volume 80, No.26, June 30, 2008 Author: Joan Childs

Friday, October 14, 2011


By HubbellFarm

Once the chicks are hardy enough (3-4 weeks of age) they are transferred to portable pens which are moved each day for a fresh pasture experience. They are fed whole grains and a protein/mineral mix free choice along with access to daily fresh pasture. They are humanly butchered at about 8 weeks of age. One of the things we have noticed is that this meat is firm without being tough. This is as a result of the diet and exercise they receive every day. The fat is primarily located outside of the meat and is not marbleized in the meat as commercial poultry often is. They dress out on average about 5 pounds each. We usually butcher about once a month through the season.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Humanely raised chickens

This weekend, Dan is getting more humanely raised chickens ready for your table. I thought I would post the following chicken related video in honor of the chickens who are about to pass on.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chicken Pipian with Mexican Rice

Chicken Pipian with Mexican Rice

From Jair Cruz

Edible Grande Traverse

Serves 4


1 whole chicken, cut into pieces salt

½ teaspoon Mexican oregano

1 medium onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic

½ pound shelled pumpkin seeds

6 dried guajillo peppers, seeds removed

2 fresh tomatoes

¼ cup oil

Place chicken pieces in a pot and add water to just cover. Add salt, oregano, half of the onion and 3 cloves garlic, and simmer about 20–30 minutes, until chicken is cooked and tender. Turn off heat and skim off fat.

Roast pumpkin seeds and guajillo peppers together on top of stove until you start to smell them and the pumpkin seeds start to pop, being careful not to burn. Remove from heat.

Bring a pan of water to boil, then drop tomatoes in and cook them until the skins crack. Drain.

Put roasted pumpkin seeds and peppers into a blender with tomatoes and salt to taste. Blend until mixture makes a thick paste.

Heat oil in a deep pan on top of stove. Add remaining onion and sauté until it starts to brown. Add paste from blender and one cup of water. Add chicken pieces and simmer 15–20 minutes, until ingredients are heated through and the flavors have time to blend.


2 tablespoons oil

1 small onion, diced

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup rice


Heat oil in a saucepan; add onion, ground cumin and rice. Cook, stirring often, until rice begins to get a little clear-colored on the outside. Add enough water to cover rice and salt to taste. Cover with lid and simmer on low until rice is tender. Serve rice on the side with the hot chicken.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

'Fresh as it gets'

Sunday, June 28, 2009 - 1:00am
Eric Carlson

Jess Piskor delivered a bushel of greens directly from his garden near Northport to the newly opened Northport Farmers Market Friday morning, and was feeling on top of the world.

“This kale is as fresh as it gets,” said Piskor. “And this is the most meaningful work I’ve ever done,” the 2004 University of Michigan graduate added.

Until recently, Piskor had been working at a popular delicatessen in Ann Arbor where, as he puts it, he “got into food and quality produce.”

“Growing and selling quality produce to your neighbors is about as satisfying as it gets,” he said. “Plus, I’m hoping we can keep my grandfather’s 40-acre farm in the family.”

Most of the farm is leased to cherry farmers. But Piskor’s 1.5-acre garden is keeping him and several of his friends and Ann Arbor “business partners” busy this summer. Farmers markets throughout Leelanau County are also bringing a little cash their way.

The farmers market season in Leelanau County is now well under way, with four of the five operations run by the Leelanau Farmers Market Association opening last week.

New this season is the Northport market, which opened Friday. Conducted outside The Depot next to the Northport Marina, the farm market will be open every Friday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. through Sept. 18.

The farmers market in Suttons Bay has been open since May 16.

Megan Gregory is the newly-hired “market master” for the Suttons Bay, Leland and Glen Arbor markets, which are open on Saturdays, Thursdays and Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. respectively.

With a marketing degree from the Traverse City campus of Davenport University, Gregory said she’s trying out a few new ideas this year to increase attendance at farmers markets. On Saturday, for example, she invited a local musician to play guitar and sing at the Suttons Bay market for tips.

On July 16, the Leland Farmers Market will host a tour for Learngreatfoods.com, an Illinois-based organization specializing in “agri-culinary” tours. The event will include a visit to the fish market in Leland as well as a local winery.

“The farm markets have been busy so far,” Gregory said, “even though some of the crops appear to be a little bit behind this year.”

Spring crops such as rhubarb and asparagus were still in abundance at local farm markets last week. Strawberries had been delayed by unusually cool weather earlier this spring, however.

“We had a few strawberries Saturday morning at Suttons Bay, but they sold out quickly,” Gregory said. “More of them will be coming in soon, I’m sure.”

The “market master” in Northport is longtime resident George Anderson, while Reuben Chapman heads the Empire market. Gregory, Anderson and Chapman all work for the board of the Leelanau Farmers Market Association, a non-profit organization that came into existence nine years ago through another organization called the Leelanau Agricultural Alliance, with the help of the Michigan State University Extension.

Leelanau County MSU Extension director Rob Sirrine said he believes the farmers markets are off to a good start this year and have a bright future ahead.

“More people are interested in purchasing local food and supporting local farmers,” Sirrine said.

And “local” is what farm markets are all about. Rules promulgated for Leelanau Farmers Markets specify that “all products must be grown or produced locally” with “local” being defined as “within 60 miles of the Leelanau County Farmers Market that the vendor is selling at.”

Vendors pay fees for setting up a stand at farmer’s markets – as little as an introductory fee of $5 for one day, or as much as $250 for a space at all five farm markets for the entire season.

Farmer Karen Drake of Cherry Beach Orchards in Suttons Bay said the farm markets mean a lot to the bottom line for some local farmers.

“We do all five farmers markets,” Drake said, “and, so far, we haven’t seen as many customers as we’d like. We’re hoping more locals will stop by the markets this summer for some really great deals, some really fine products, and to help support local agriculture.”

This entry was submitted by - Eric Carlson

Monday, October 10, 2011

Swamp of Suffering

by Swamp of Suffering

Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 7-11pm. The Swamp Of Suffering is Evernight Entertainment's latest Haunted Attraction - taking guest beyond the Asylum and into the treacherous swamp behind it. Guests will wind their way through dark swamp areas and through several shacks along the way....never knowing when they may run into some of the inhabitants. Located at 3123 S Airport Rd.; Traverse City, MI 49684. We're in the old Circuit City Building, near Home Depot. For more information visit the link or call (231) 360-5044.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fall Activities


Unlike a federally designated national park, hunting is allowed in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. And what amazing hunting opportunity there is! Come October, the chalky aspen covers and old abandoned farms offer a magical backdrop for some of the finest upland grouse and woodcock hunting in the Midwest. November means a chance at seeing a buck of a lifetime slinking through the sand dunes and cedar swamps headed down to Lake Michigan to drink. South and North Manitou Islands offer a primitive, wilderness deer hunting experience not found anywhere else in the Lower 48.

Salmon Fishing

They strike like lightening, weigh as much as a cinder block, and pull like no fish you've ever tangled with before. For the angling adventure of a lifetime, book a big-tackle, offshore charter with friends or family. Or go-it-alone on the Platte River where salmon fishing in northern Michigan was born. Here, come September, the Chinook and Coho salmon can be found surging upstream by the hundreds, blackening the water with their sheer numbers. Keep your cool and hold on salmon offer one of the most challenging fights in fresh water.

By The Homestead

Leaf Peeping

Amidst the glorious colors of fall, you wind down back roads lined with golden fields. Stopping for fresh cider, maybe a Halloween pumpkin, a basket of freshly-picked apples at a farmer's roadside stand, or simply pausing at a scenic spot overlooking Glen Lake, Lake Michigan, or the fiery sands of the Sleeping Bear Dunes aglow in the evening sun. You feel the biting chill of the sea breeze coming off the big water, look up a see a wedge of geese winging south all that tells you winter will very soon be here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why would I want to purchase humanely raised meat?

By Wisegeek

With a growing awareness of where their food is coming from, many consumers are being incited to buy humanely raised meat and other animal products. Since humanely raised meat is more expensive than conventional meat, some people quite reasonably ask why they would want to purchase the more expensive product. There are a number of reasons to choose humane over traditional animal products, ranging from ethics to environmentalism. Educating yourself about humanely raised meat will help you to make a more informed decision at the grocery store.

Before delving into the reasons to choose humanely raised meat, it helps to take a quick look at the two basic styles of animal raising which prevail in many industrialized nations. The first is “traditional” farming, which is sometimes better known as “factory farming.” In a factory farming situation, animals often endure brutal, cramped conditions, and they are treated like commodities rather than individuals. Often abusive situations such as those found in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are not only bad for the animals; they are bad for the environment. Cramped conditions breed serious disease, and CAFOs are often unable to cope with the volume of animal waste generated, which can lead to serious pollution problems.

On a humane farm, the approach to animal raising is different. Typically, though not always, the animals are raised in more spacious conditions, with a focus on preventative care for the animals and the environment. On some humane farms, animals rotate through fields with other animal species and plants, in the hopes of creating a more healthy farm environment. The animals are allowed to mature at their own rate, and they are handled gently throughout their lifetimes and the slaughter process. Some organizations offer meat certifications such as the Free Farmed certification to farms which practice humane farming techniques.

One of the most obvious reasons to choose humanely raised meat is, of course, ethical. Many people who eat meat would prefer to eat meat which has been raised in pleasant conditions, because animals are sentient living organisms. Some animals, such as pigs, have also demonstrated some self-awareness, which makes the thought of existing in the miserable conditions of a CAFO very distasteful.

Another reason often cited is the desire to purchase locally raised meat. For people who are interested in meeting their meat producers, humanely raised meat is a conduit to meeting farmers and seeing the conditions on a farm first hand. Locally raised food also tends to be generally better for the environment, since it involves less food miles. It also benefits local economies, by keeping spending local.

Some people also believe that humanely raised meat has a better flavor. This may be due to more balanced conditions, which include a wide and varied diet along with the ability to play and exercise. Factory farmed meat tends to have a dull, uniform flavor, since the animals are fed very unhealthy diets and prevented from living ordinary lives. While it may be cliché to say that consumers can “taste the freedom,” they can taste the impact that an animal's diet has on its flesh.

Finally, humanely raised meat is usually better for the environment. Since humanely raised meat tends to be brought up on small farms, there is a focus on caring for the environment which CAFOs do not have. Because a much smaller number of animals is handled, the farmer can process manure properly, keep the land in good condition, and take the time to rotate animals and crops for healthy soil. A CAFO, on the other hand, cannot afford these measures, because thousands of animals are cramped into a small space, generating thousands of tons of waste products. These waste products end up in the air, the soil, and the water, leading to serious environmental problems.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall color, events peaking

Originally posted.

For artist Kate Fiebing, sewing is second nature.

“I’ve always enjoyed sewing. I find it relaxing and creative,” she said.

Fiebing of Suttons Bay will be the featured artist in the eighth annual Fiber Festival being held in the Old Art Building Friday and Saturday, part of a deep lineup of weekend events signaling that fall is peaking in Leelanau County.

It promises to be a great time to live in or visit Leelanau County. Autumn color is also working toward a grand finale, and weekend temperatures are expected to bypass 60 degrees under sunny skies.

Art lovers should be in heaven attending the Fiber Festival and an annual Fall for Art tour of county galleries.

Contrary to popular opinion, the “fiber” in the festival does not refer to the kind you eat. Cloth, yard, string, and just about any variation on the elements are included in this unique art form.

Sponsored by the Leelanau Community Cultural Center, the Fiber Festival provides a stage for county and regional artists who work in the medium. Judy Livingston, the center’s director, said you will see pieces from a knitted scarf or sweater, to hand bags, slippers and jackets. “These items are all unique and quite different from each other. It is a fun show to put together,” she said.

Fiebing has a degree in engineering from Michigan State University. When she had children, Fiebing returned to sewing as a less costly measure for making new clothes and putting her own touches on patterns and shapes.

“I find sewing to be calming, I just love it. I actually enjoy making patterns, the novelty sewing allows for in your creations,” she said.

Fiebing enjoys her “work,” especially the creation of a crocodile costume made for a Suttons Bay school production of Peter Pan. “It was so much fun. The eyes lit up, the tail swished, it was a very fun costume to make and a bit of a challenge,” she said.

The items Fiebing creates as part of her business, Leelanau Designs, range from new clothing to redesigning an existing handbag design and adding a patch to it.

“My thing is to take something, a coat or slippers, and made it my own, make it a one-of-a-kind,” she said.

In addition to clothing and accessories, Fiebing makes fabric dolls and puppets. She has created puppets that were part of the Tiffany’s department store Christmas windows display for its Detroit store.

Fiebing will have coats, jackets, hats, gloves, bags and other items on display at the Fiber Festival which runs from 5-8 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. She is one of 18 artist who will have fiber art items on exhibit. Part of the proceeds from the show will go to the Leelanau Community Cultural Center’s effort to raise awareness about art in the county.

Galleries and artists from around the county have teamed up for the fourth annual Fall for Art in Leelanau County. The “tour” of the county will take place Friday through Sunday with participating galleries and stores staying open Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. The event will conclude with a reception at 3 p.m. at the Homestead in Glen Arbor.

Each participating gallery will have a bright yellow “fall for art” sign displayed on the front its building. Participants may start at any gallery, where they can pick up a descriptive brochure about the event and the locations of each gallery. Art “treasure hunters” gather signatures at participating galleries. Brochures with signatures from each gallery are eligible for a prize drawing at the closing reception.

Organized by the Glen Arbor Art Association, this year’s event is chaired by John Huston of the Glen Arbor Artists’ Gallery.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to get out, see the fall colors and get to know some of the galleries in our county,” he said.

The Empire Heritage Day celebration will t ake place Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at the Empire Area Museum Complex on Saturday. The event will feature a classic and antique car and vehicle show:

demonstrations on old-time food preparation like making apple butter, maple sugar candy, sauerkraut, and other items such as shingles using turn of the century methods. Other activities on display include black smiths, wood working, recorded old phonograph and music box music and player piano demonstrations. Empire area has been celebrating Heritage Day for 36 years according to co-chairs Bob and Rita Quinn.

“The day marks the end of another great season of keeping our past alive,” Bob Quinn said.

The museum complex is located next to the village fire hall and includes the main building, a one-room school house, the 1911 Hose House, and the Billy Beeman barn.