Passion of the Percherons: Getting Ready with Young Living Horses & Team

Cyclone, Bode, Huey, Tuff, Ice, Jag, Elk, and Rocket.

These are the names of the 8 wonderful gentlemen I had the pleasure of meeting recently at the Nebraska State Fair. They all had dark hair and were well over 6 feet tall. It isn’t often I feel as if I’m in the presence of giants since I’m fairly tall myself. However, these guys have a way of making you look up and feel small.

Now, you are probably wondering who these guys are. With names like those, you may think I met some sort of band. They aren’t a part of a band, but they are all stars. These 8 gentlemen are the Percheron horses of the Young Living Exhibition Team.

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Young Living is a company (you may have heard of it) that produces essential oils. Their founder, Gary Young, loved horses. It only made sense to combine his passion for essential oils and horses together. At their Whispering Springs Farm in Mona, Utah, they have over 120 horses and focuses on draft and Fresian horses.

A handful of those horses are able to travel to various fairs and shows to compete and represent the Young Living brand and products. The 8 horses I met do not compete in shows, but do show off at fairs as the exhibition team.

Each horse is filled with personality. They may look very similar, but they are each unique. Those who get to handle and care for them can tell you all about each one.

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Here enters my friend Bradley Glover. Bradley and I grew up in the same county and showed livestock together. Bradley loves draft horses. He has interned with the large Clydesdales at Budweiser and helped drive wagons in Yellowstone National Park. Now he is living in Utah with the Young Living Percheron horses.

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I got a text from Bradley asking how close I was to Grand Island, Nebraska. Garrett and I then made plans to drive up to see Bradley (Garrett and Bradley worked together at NCSU) and meet the horses at the Nebraska State Fair.

Bradley not only helps feed and care for each of the horses with four others on the exhibition team, but he also helps prepare each horse for their performance.

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It takes about 2 hours to braid and comb the horses manes and tails. In addition, they add boots, paint their hooves and make sure they are clean. They also tack all the horses up in harnesses and gear that weighs about 100 pounds per horse. This sounds heavy, but each horse weighs around 2,000 pounds. Huey may weigh a tick more…he likes his food.

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After they are decked in their purple splendor, they are practically itching to go. It was so funny to see the horses nodding their heads and straining to get into their harness. They love their job and love to perform. They were ready!

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After they are harnessed up, they are hitched to the wagon. In a 6-horse hitch, there are three positions: lead, swing, and wheel. Typically the largest and most trustworthy horses are placed in the wheel position. These are Tuff and Jag. The swing horses must stay in their spots and help round corners. Elk and Cyclone are swingers. Finally, the lead horses are often the flashiest horses who really like to prance. Bode and Huey are the guys for the job.

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And what about the man behind the reins? That would be Jason Goodman. He has been around draft horses about all of his life. His wife Rose, who is also on the team, has a long history with draft horses as well.

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No matter what your position on the team, everyone pitches in to get the job done. That job is making those 8 gentleman looking spectacular, and that job involves shoveling manure, cleaning equipment, braiding hair, feeding, washing, and so much more.

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Thanks to the hard work of all the team members, the horses do indeed look spectacular in the ring. With Jason Goodman guiding the team, they trot, make figure eights, dock, and full on run. Their time in the ring seems like a blur, and I do believe the horses wouldn’t mind one bit if they could go around the ring once or 3 times more.

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They will soon do it all over again, though, showing crowds that big doesn’t mean they can’t be agile or graceful. They proved to me that, although lovable and goofy in the barns, they are all business and style when it is show time.

Cyclone, Elk, Bode, Huey, Rocket, Jag, Ice, and Tuff, you guys are amazing!

Bradley, Jason, Rose, Cole, and Henry, thank you for letting me capture your normal. I so enjoyed soaking up your knowledge and witnessing the passion you have for draft horses.

Garrett, thanks for carrying my camera bag and reaching up high for a couple of photos. I think we found your size of animal.

Young Living, kudos to you for what you do with these horses and sharing them with the public.

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More Than a Feed Mill: Nahunta Feed Supply Tour

DSC_9476Every week, just about, someone in our family drives to the Nahunta Feed Supply to buy feed for our livestock. It isn’t just a store where we pick up a few bags of feed, though.DSC_9415It is a place where we and everyone else are greeted with a smile, a “Hey!! How are you?!”, and maybe even a token word of friendly advice. The Nahunta Feed Supply is warm and inviting. The office is filled with homey touches and tons of pictures of friends, family, and youth who the feed mill supports. There is always a candle burning, so it smells more like a house than a mill. DSC_9416DSC_9421DSC_9417DSC_9423Most days, Mrs. Gale is at the counter to check you out. Somehow, she seems to make writing a check more enjoyable. Her husband, Roger, runs back and forth between their farm and the mill. DSC_9418My family and I have loved getting to know the Pittmans and those who work at Nahunta Feed Supply over the years. So, before I moved, I wanted to capture the mill, store, and the people behind it. In typical fashion, they were accommodating, gracious, and more than welcoming.

Nahunta Feed Supply used to be known as Pierce Farms Center, which is Mrs. Gale’s side of the family. It started as a cotton gin, and grew to be a lot more.DSC_9429“Daddy continued to grow with land and business and expanded into a feed mill, growing hay, and selling fertilizer. He would buy crops from the farmers too,” said Mrs. Gale. DSC_9501The feed mill is at least 60 years old and is filled with history and heritage. In January of 2007, Gale and her husband Roger took over the store and mill and renamed it Nahunta Feed Supply. DSC_9493Today Nahunta Feed Supply provides feed, hay, and other supplies to the local community. They also serve up smiles and joy. It is evident they love what they do.DSC_9427DSC_9424DSC_9428DSC_9468DSC_9454“I get so attached to my customers. I do really like it because I get to interact with people, and they become like your family. My customers are my family, and I love the country life,” said Mrs. Gale.DSC_9434DSC_9432DSC_9431You can find the Pittmans at local livestock shows, supporting their customers who enter the ring. They love to see how the kids take the feed they purchase from the mill, feed it to their animals, and then show those animals off, and sometimes win! Not only do the Pittmans like to watch, but they have also made it a point to support the shows financially. No one can say that they do not give back.

We (my brothers tagged along, because shouldn’t all good livestock showmen know where their feed comes from?) toured the mill and learned how the feed was made.DSC_9471DSC_9440DSC_9437DSC_9435DSC_9436DSC_9439DSC_9451DSC_9457We learned lots of interesting facts; for example, we discovered corn is ground more coarsely or more fine, depending on the type of feed and animal being fed. DSC_9447DSC_9444DSC_9445DSC_9450DSC_9446In addition to touring the mill, we also saw various types of equipment and the warehouse. A lot of the feed at Nahunta Feed Supply is made from crops grown by the Pittmans on their 687 acres they tend. They also grow and sell a large amount of hay for customers (182 of their 687 acres is hay). DSC_9458DSC_9496DSC_9497If I have come away with anything from my many visits to Nahunta Feed Supply, it is that it is much more than a feed mill. It is the people inside who run it, the passion in which they work, and the care in which they show to all of us who visit!DSC_9502

 

 

 

Sheep in the Mist||Photo Shoot

There is really no purpose to this blog post other than to show off my sheep and how awesome they look in the fog. I’m so glad I grabbed my camera, and the sheep made the perfect models. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Happy Monday!

PS Be sure to read the captions for commentary

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Georgette stops to check me out, but quickly decides the camera isn’t safe. Time to run to her friends.
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It’s a rainbow of sheep…well a neutral colored rainbow.
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I call this her supermodel look.
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Paisley is always such a diva. She’s stomping her foot at me here. So. Much. Sassiness.
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Silver and Georgette really wishing I’d go away
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The white sheep just seem to be one with the misty fog. 

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If the sheep were making a movie, this would be the cover. Evelyn is even bowing.