Bubba and Bevis were the names of the two draft horses George got in the spring of 2005. George had retired from racing harness horses and had always wanted to have a team of draft horses.
There is a place in Amish country called Mt. Hope, where they have horse auctions. The first horse George got there, he named Bubba. He was 18 hands high, black and weighed over 2000 pounds. They are percherons, which is a breed of draft horses that originally came from France.
George had grown up having a team of them back in 1948 when he was 10 years old, and hadn’t been around any since. His interest was renewed because of seeing them out in a field at a friend’s farm on State Route 42. Now that he had one percheron, he needed another one to make a team.
So back to Mt. Hope he went, and found another big black 2,000-pound percheron, and named him Bevis. Next, with his team, he needed two sets of harness. He found just what he needed from a friend who sold them to him for a decent price. George’s dad showed him that putting that much harness on those 2 big horses is almost a 2 man job. Now, he had everything needed to pull something, but nothing to pull.
Well, if you can believe this, a guy down the road just so happened to want to sell a covered wagon. And it wasn’t long until we were making a place for it in our barn. It was every bit like the covered wagons you see in the old western movies. They can seat at least 10 people. So when we put everything together, we went out on the streets of our village to get them used to the territory.
I am not comfortable in some horse situations, but I did get in the covered wagon. Everything was fine, until we came to the railroad tracks. That’s when Bubba and Bevis decided to go up the tracks instead of across them. When I saw what was happening, I jumped off the covered wagon as fast as I could, and headed for home.
Eventually, with more training, they did very well on the streets. A lot of people came out of their houses to watch, and some even jumped on the wagon. This was about the time when George’s dad got to drive the team. He hadn’t driven any percherons since 1948 and enjoyed being back at the reins.
That September, George entered them in the All-Horse Parade in Delaware. However, so many people wanted to ride with us in the parade, that the covered wagon couldn’t hold them all.
So, George converted his hay wagon to a home-made covered wagon and we took at least 16 people with us. Because of the inclines on North Sandusky Street, he knew he would have to have a brake to be able to help control the speed of the wagon. So he invented a brake that he could use manually, and it worked.
The parade route is 3 miles long, so had time to allow 2 girls from our farm, Sarah and Charlotte, to drive during some of the trip. Any time someone would want to have the experience of driving a team of horses, George would let them hold the reins and drive. They would also get the experience of stopping and turning corners. We always decorated the wagon with red, white and blue streamers, and an American flag.
In order to haul the 2 ”Big Boys,” as we called them, he had to convert his 4-horse trailer to be a two-horse trailer to get them both inside. As a team, their weight was exactly 4,120 pounds, and since they have very calm dispositions, they are often referred to as the “Gentle Giants.”
Bubba showed in horse shows with George driving, using a big wheeled Amish Road Cart. He did well enough to win a Blue Ribbon at every show he was in. The other horse, Bevis, was shown at horse shows in riding classes by the girls at the farm, because he could walk, trot and canter. It was a big thrill for them to show a draft horse in a fun show.
After several years of being in the All-horse parades, Bevis died. About a year later, Bubba got down in his stall and couldn’t get up, due to old age. He had to be put to sleep by the Vet. He was laying inside his stall in such a way as to completely block the doorway. So, to get him out, George had to remove the entire front of the stall, board by board.
During these years since Bubba and Bevis died, George has often talked about getting another team of percherons. But, he always says, “My wife and daughters don’t want me to, because they think I’m getting too old to be wrestling with 2,000- pound horses.” And his wife and daughters are absolutely right.
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.