It isn’t every day that you can look out your front window and see two giant-sized horses pulling a wagon full of people up the street. (Not in this day and age anyway. Maybe before cars were invented, back in the early 1900s, it might have been a little more common.) But, that very thing went on here in our village several years ago. That’s when my husband, George, owned 2 Percheron horses. They are known as the “Gentle Giants.”
George always had an interest in draft horses. As a boy of 10, he experienced being around them and always wanted to have a team of his own. So, when he retired from racing horses, he set out to have his dream come true. That meant a trip to Mt. Hope in Holmes County, Ohio, where they had auctions and sold Percherons.
The first one he was able to buy, he named “Bubba!” He weighed a ton! (2,040 pounds to be exact.)
Since he was the first Percheron, he got the first stall on the left as you entered the horse barn. And from day one, he got a lot of attention from anyone coming through the door. It seemed that the smaller the child, the more attention the big horse got! And with a lot of help, the children all got to sit on his back and be walked around the indoor arena.
The very next month, George got a second Percheron. He named him “Bevis,” and he weighed in at 1,980 pounds. This meant he had the team he had always wanted! Therefore, at the All-Horse parades that followed, you could have seen them going up and down the streets of Delaware. While in the All-Horse parades, you may have even seen various teenagers driving them. (Of course, George was helping.)
Both Percherons were shown in horse shows. They were entered in pleasure classes as well as the trail riding classes, and they won every time they entered! Taking a horse that large to horse shows meant needing to have a four-horse trailer, as well as all the horse tack and harness that was extra large, as well. If you knew what was good for you, you stayed at a distance to be sure that they didn’t step on your toes.
Eventually, one morning, Bubba was found on the floor of his stall, and he was not able to get up. He had fallen completely across the inside of the door opening. Since the doors open in, there seemed to be no way in the world to be able to get him out. So, George had to remove the entire front of the stall, board by board. When the veterinarian arrived, he had to put Bubba down. That was a very sad day for everyone who knew him. It wasn’t long before Bevis had to be put down, also. Needless to say, their loss was a big loss for everyone who came to the barn.
We still talk about those Gentle Giants. Look at me, I’m sitting here writing about them so many years later. And if you knew Sarah, Charlotte, Kailey, Katie or Maria, and the others who were always around, I’m sure you would hear some great stories of their time spent with those gentle giants. I remember one of them telling me how comfortable it was to get to sit on such a big horse. She said it was like sitting in a rocking chair.
If Bubba and Bevis had lived, you might still get to see them going past your house. And, if you came outside to get a closer look, I’m sure George would have let you get up on the wagon with the rest of us who were out for an evening’s cruise of the village.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.