Horse Sense

Behind the scenes with the Budweiser Clydesdales

The public regularly sees the members of the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch on display in commercials, at events and in parades, but did you ever wonder what happens when they are between gigs? Despite the fact that they are highly trained and well-behaved horses, they are just horses.

Recently, Michelle Randolph, a professional photographer and friend of, was allowed to spend time with one of the Budweiser Clydesdale hitches as they prepared for a parade and also took some time off to relax and play.

“I love horses and when I found out that the Budweiser Clydesdales were staying not 5 miles from me I about flipped out,” she said. “I tried not be annoying, but anyone who knows how I am with horses and a camera knows that didn’t happen! All I can say about the few days I got to spend with the Budweiser Clydesdales is that it was such an incredible experience!”… Continue reading

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For the love of the Percheron horse

Anyone involved with showing livestock knows that it takes a special kind of dedication to attend shows throughout the country and compete at the top level. Showing a large hitch of draft horses may be one of the most daunting challenges in the show ring due to the incredible expense, time, amount of equipment, and harness required.

For Barbara Watson, owner of Eagle Creek Percherons of Montpelier, her involvement in showing Percherons on the national level all comes down to admiration for the Percheron horse.

“If I didn’t love the Percheron horse, I wouldn’t be doing it,” Watson said.

Although she is now heavily involved in breeding and showing Percherons, Watson grew up in Williams County on a livestock and grain farm with a very different horse interest.

“I got a horse when I was in the fourth grade,” Watson said. “She could have been part draft for the way she looked.… Continue reading

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2014 Spring Buckeye Draft Horse Sale results

Official sale results as supplied by the Buckeye Draft Horse Sale Committee. This sale takes place twice a year in Dover, Ohio.

Photo courtesy of JW Wilcox – Amish Country Images.

179 horses entered • 22 outs • 7 no sales • 150 sold (catalogued and uncatalogued)

Horses entered from and sold into 14 states and Canada.
45 Belgian mares  average: $3,183
33 Percheron mares  average: $3,543
15 Belgian geldings average: $3,340
11 Percheron geldings average: $3,300
27 Belgian stallions average: $2,748
19 Percheron stallions  average: $1,834
47 yearling stallions (both breeds) average: $2,510
Uncatalogued horses average: $3,045
Total sale average: 150 head average: $3,038


Format: Lot number; Seller; Sale Price; Buyer

1          Martin M. Wickey, Jr., Decatur, IN 5,000 Oba Hershberger, Sullivan, IL
2           Nathaniel U. Byler, Bristolville, OH    5,500   Harley Schwartz , Akron, lN
3           Mystic Meadows LTD, Garee W. Earnest, Johnstown, OH      2,100   Aden D. Schlabach,Fredericksburg, OH
4           Eli L.

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A Blue Ribbon Day at Ohio Equine Affaire

As it turns out, Blue Ribbon Days Percherons’ 6-horse hitch was one of the surprise performers at the Fantasia shows during the 2014 Equine Affaire in Ohio. Their participation in the event wasn’t quite a surprise to me though, because I follow the hitch’s Facebook page.

Since I formed a particular interest in Blue Ribbon Days Percherons by following their page, I thought I would take the opportunity of meeting and talking with the driver of the hitch, Dean Woodbury, while he and the horses were attending Equine Affaire.

I had a lot of questions, and I thought a lot of other draft horse hitch fans who follow their page might have some of the same questions so Dean was kind enough to answer even my silliest questions.

First, I had to ask about their plans for current World Champion Percheron Mare, Unique. Unique currently serves as the right wheel horse for the hitch.… Continue reading

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Equine Dentistry: Protecting the horse from unlicensed dental care providers

Editor’s note: This originally appeared in Equine Veterinary Education, American Edition, Vol. 22, Numbers 1 & 2. Reprinted with permission of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.


For the past decade the practice of equine dentistry in North America, as well as other veterinary services such as reproductive services, chiropractics, physical therapy/rehabilitation, acupuncture, prescription drug sales and complementary medicine, has been the subject of increasingly heated political debates and legal actions. Unlicensed dental care providers are demanding the right to autonomously provide veterinary services without professional education and accountability.

Most equine veterinarians are aware of the recent legal cases involving the practice of equine dentistry in Minnesota and Oklahoma as well as an ongoing case in Texas. However, the January 2009 decision of the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court to reject the state Racing and Wagering Board’s appeal to keep an unlicensed tooth-floater from working on horses demonstrated the ultimate consequence of the deregulation of equine dentistry.… Continue reading

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Equine dentistry: What’s the law?

Editor’s note: This article’s intent is to inform equine owners of some of the laws surrounding equine dental care in the state of Ohio. It is just an overview and should not be considered legal advice. The final decision in all matters of animal care lies in the hands of animal owners. Contact an attorney if you have further questions about who is legally qualified in the state of Ohio to perform equine dental care.

Today, equine dental care is often considered a routine part of maintaining the overall health of horses. Whether horse owners subscribe to a national equine publication or are members of a local equine club, equine dentistry is often at the forefront of horse owner educational articles and clinics. Whether the articles and clinicians preach the use of power tools by equine dentists or frown upon them, the theme remains the same — equine dentistry needs to be a routine part of equine care.… Continue reading

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Electric fence wars

I have quite a bit of electric fence in use around my barn. I have pastures that are constructed of purely electric fences as well as some dry lots that are composed of traditional livestock fencing types that are bordered with electric wire. I have found it necessary to keep nearly 80% of all my fencing electrified in some way to keep my fence and my horses safe.

Last spring, my bred mare was pastured in a lot with traditional livestock fencing that was not electrified. She had an itch she couldn’t reach that needed scratching, and she used the fence to scratch the itch and proceeded to injure herself. The massive amount of blood involved, along with the location of her injury caused some unnecessary stress and excitement until a thorough inspection was done.

Once the mare’s injury was dealt with, I immediately added electric wire to her lot to ensure no other horses tried to use the fence to scratch unreachable parts.… Continue reading

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What may be floating around in your barn?

Winter Means Increased Respiratory Problems for Some Horses

Winter brings cold temperatures and inclement weather. We want to keep our horses as comfortable as possible, which to us, means keeping them warm and snug indoors when the wind is howling outside. So, we blanket them, put them in a warm stall, close all the doors and windows and feed them extra hay…they will be so warm and happy won’t they? Well, they may be warm but they may begin to have trouble breathing.

Barns are often built for warmth and protection more than air flow and ventilation.  Measurement of respirable organic particles or particulate matter in horse barns has shown potential danger for horses housed in barns. Combine structure design with the potential for hay and bedding being stored in or near the barn, tractors and equipment running through from time to time, activities like sweeping aisles and cleaning stalls, then connect to an indoor arena and the level of airborne organic dust can reach damaging levels.… Continue reading

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Young jockey making a name for herself in the racing world

Chelsey Keiser is part of a younger generation becoming more involved in the unique sport of horse racing. And, even at her young age, she has already compiled numerous accolades and built a reputation as a tough competitor as she lives out her lifelong dream of being a horse jockey.

She said her love for horses started as she was growing up on her parents’ Darke County farm. The family began racing horses for money and she would help in the training process by galloping. However, when it came time to race, she always had to hand it off to a jockey to take the horse on the track.

“Deciding to become a jockey wasn’t something I just decided to do one day. My parents owned and trained barrel horses my whole life. I rode horses before I could walk and had a pony as well,” she said. “My parents have always tried to make money with the horses and felt this could be achieved by training race horses.… Continue reading

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Driving draft horses is still a thrill for Buckeye native

Though Jason Honsberger of Defiance has driven draft horses most his life and has been a professional driver for nearly 20 years, he still finds holding the lines of a large hitch of draft horses thrilling.

Honsberger started driving horses around the age of 8, but moved up from smaller hitches to driving much larger hitches at a young age. By the time he was 16, he was driving his family’s six-horse hitch in the show ring. Most of his summers as a kid were spent showing horses with his family.

“That is what we pretty much did as a family from the day we got out of school,” he said. “We would go to all the county fairs in Ohio and in Michigan until the day we went back to school.”

Though Honsberger did graduate from The Ohio State University with a degree in business administration, his plans to pursue a career in that field were put on hold when he was offered a job driving draft horses professionally.… Continue reading

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Logging with Belgians begins journey to show ring

Craig and Chris Hammersmith of Defiance weren’t always interested in draft horses. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Hammersmiths resided in Vermont where they owned a logging operation. They didn’t own any horses at the time and had no plans to change their situation.

“I had a skidder and bull dozer, and I was commercially logging,” Craig said.

But Vermont is full of sugar woods and an irresistible opportunity to expand the logging business in a new direction was presented to Craig.

“A friend of mine was president of the Vermont Maple Syrup Association had 3,000 acres of sugar wood with roads in it and everything,” Craig said. “It had beautiful saw logs in it. He said, ‘Hammer if somebody had a pair of horses I’d just about give them those logs.’”

Though Craig had no previous experience owning or working with horses, he was never one to turn down a challenge so he and a buddy decided to try their hand at logging with horses.… Continue reading

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Veterinarian/College Dean becomes combined driving enthusiast

As a veterinarian and a lifetime horse enthusiast, Pamela A. Hess, D.V.M. of Chardon has worked professionally in the equine field since the mid-1970s and has been an avid trail rider since the early-1990s. Although she has always ridden and worked with horses, she had never driven horses.

“I worked as a Thoroughbred racetrack groom and prepped Kentucky sales yearlings for Spendthrift Farm before going to vet school at Purdue University from 1984-1988,” Hess said.

Although Hess is currently the Dean of the School of Equine Studies at Lake Erie College, it was a long road back to Ohio. After vet school and years of internships and residencies to prepare her for her career as a veterinarian, Hess joined the faculty at the Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Stillwater, Okla., but she decided to return home to Ohio in the mid-1990s.

“In 1996, I returned home to Northeastern Ohio and started my own private equine veterinary practice Western Reserve Equine Medical Services in Middlefield, Ohio,” she said.… Continue reading

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2013 Buckeye Battle of the Breeds Draft Horse Team Challenge

Ten teams of draft horses participated in the Buckeye Battle of the Breeds Team Challenge at the 2013 Ohio State Fair. This special class is open to all breeds of draft horses and offers extra prize money to the winners.

Short videos of the three heats of this class are shown to the left. The final drive off is show below.


  1. Lor Rob Dairy Farm Belgians, East Bethany, NY
  2. Oak Haven Belgians, Fremont, Ohio
  3. Blue Ribbon Days Farms, Winchester, Indiana
  4. Windermere Farms/Jackson Fork Ranch, Spring Mills, Pa
  5. All Star Farms, Wayne, Ohio*
  6. Hunting Creek Farms, Hamptonville, NC
  7. Hammersmith Belgians, Defiance, Ohio
  8. Flat Rock Draft Horses, Bellevue, Ohio
  9. Clemson Show Belgians, Chardon, Ohio
  10. Circle S Percherons, Dennison, Ohio

* All Star Farms was also the winner of a random drawing for $830 worth of horse harness.… Continue reading

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2013 Ohio State Fair Buckeye Battle of the Breeds Draft Horse Cart Class

Congratulations to the winners of the Buckeye Battle of the Breeds Cart Challenge — All Star Farms and driver Nicole Honsberger of Wayne, Ohio.

Approximately 19 horses and their drivers competed in the class this year. This unique class is open to all breeds of draft horses. Cash prizes are larger than normal for those who place in this class. In addition, two non-placing entries are randomly chosen to receive cash prizes.

The final drive off is viewable below. Short clips of each heat are view to the left.


1. All Star Farms, Wayne, Ohio

2. Blue Ribbon Days, Winchester, Indiana

3. Flat Rock Draft Horses, Bellevue, Ohio

4. Gunville Hitch, Quinnesec, Michigan

5. Oak Haven Belgians, Fremont, Ohio

6. Windermere and Jackson Fork Ranch, Spring Mills, Pa.

7. Eagle Creek Farm, Montpelier, Ohio

8. Hammersmith Belgians, Defiance, Ohio

9. LorRob Dairy Farm, East Bethany, NY

10. Circle S Percherons, Dennison, Ohio

Jackpot of $300: R&M Farms Drafty Acres, Seville, Ohio

Jackpot of $200: Jo Nel Farms, Wayne, Ohio… Continue reading

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Buying horses: Try it before you buy it

There is much information on the Internet and in equine publications about buying and selling horses. Most of these publications and articles are geared toward the buyer and most of those buyers are considered novice horse owners.

Because these publications often take the views of their readers (the buyers), they often overlook the rights and risks of the horse sellers. Many articles encourage potential buyers to REQUIRE 30-day trials on horses before they buy them.

When I read articles that tell buyers to require sellers to allow their horses to leave the premises or even stay on the premises for a 30-day trial period, my hair stands on end and my face becomes scarlet. Is no one considering the seller?

The articles often go as far as to suggest that sellers who refuse to allow trials are trying to hide something about the horse. Not so at my house. I’m trying to protect my horse, my property and my investment.… Continue reading

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Harnessing the power of the draft horse: Joe Reed

Joe Reed still chooses to use horsepower to work ground and plant and harvest crops on the farm he and his wife, Sally, own near Fredericktown, Ohio. Despite the lack of air conditioning and a comfortable tractor seat, Reed seems to take great satisfaction in using his horses on the farm.

“I like them, and I enjoy it,” he said. “I’ve done it all my life.”

“We’ll put out about 7 acres of corn. There’s about 15 acres of oats. We’ve done all the plowing with the horses. After I get done picking corn, I start right in plowing. I like to have it all plowed before it freezes it up. And then if the weather is right I can get early oats in especially because I shear sheep. Everybody wants to shear sheep when I should be farming. I shear just shy of 4,000 head. I don’t miss a month that I don’t shear something.”… Continue reading

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Mt. Hope Summer Draft Horse Sale

The Mt. Hope Summer Carriage and Draft Horse Sale was held June 6 and 7, 2013. A large crowed gathered on the sale grounds to watch nearly 600 horses and ponies go through the auction ring.

In addition to the auction, there were a few vendors on hand selling harness and other horse-related items. The next Mid-Ohio Carriage and Draft Horse Sale at Mt. Hope will be held Oct. 8-11. Visit  for more information.

The pictures in the photo gallery below were taken on June 7, 2013.… Continue reading

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Ohio Percheron Breeders Spring Picnic

More than 50 people attended the Ohio Percheron Breeders Association’s Spring Picnic which was held at the home of Abe and Betty Raber near Mt. Hope, Ohio.

In addition to a potluck style meal, the group held their annual spring meeting. A professional auctioneer was also on hand to help auction off items brought to the picnic by members to help raise funds to further promote the Percheron breed.

Most agree the highlight of the day was the two six horse hitches that performed for the enjoyment of the attendees. Kal-Mo Percherons, owned by the Rabers, demonstrated a 6-hitch farm team. Circle S Percherons owned by Mike Super of Dennison, Ohio, showed off their 6-hitch team of show mares.

For more information about the Ohio Percheron Breeders Association, visit… Continue reading

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Getting the best nutritional value for your money

Diesel, groceries, fertilizer, grain and hay are all on the price escalator going up, up, up.  There are a number of reasons for this run in prices including poor climate conditions in some areas and the declining value of the dollar. Of course none of these reasons lessen the impact on our pocketbooks, and horse owners are feeling the financial strain. This has caused many horse owners to become more focused on getting the most value for their dollar when it comes to feeding their horses.

Finding the best value horse feed means looking past price per bag and calculating the actual cost per day to feed. Divide the price per bag by 50 pounds to determine price per pound. Then, multiply the price per pound by the pounds fed per day. Horse owners are often surprised to find the feed that is cheaper by the bag may be more expensive per day because it must be fed at a larger amount per day or requires added expensive supplements to meet nutrient requirements.… Continue reading

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