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The Percherons New Home

Jul 17, 2008
Second in size only to Colonial Williamsburg, Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, WI offers a trip into Wisconsin history. Built in the tradition of Europe's outdoor museums, Old World Wisconsin represents the material and cultural history of twelve ethnic groups on ten farmsteads. Sixty-nine historic buildings have been gathered from all parts of the state and reassembled throughout the 576 acres of land located in the southern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

Old World Wisconsin is home to three sets of driving teams. The newest Percheron pair, Patty and Pearl were purchased this April with help from the Friends of Old World Wisconsin. Patti, 7 years old, is a dappled grey and Pearl, mostly white with some dapples, is 8. Weighing in at 1750 pounds each, Patty and Pearl are heavy enough to be used for a variety of chores. Percherons date back to medieval times, when knights rode them into battle. They were chosen for the same reasons then as they are today, for their substance, beauty and style as well as their sheer power. Patty and Pearl will pull the Omnibus, an 1800's style Wagonette - the first pull-bus in Milwaukee; and work the grain binder to cut grain or haul larger loads of hay. They will also occasionally be hitched to the museum's historic mower, used in skidding logs and demonstrate the use of the Sawmill.

Bryan Zaeske, historic farmer for Old World Wisconsin, is very excited about the new team. "I like to think we have one of the best historic animal programs in the country," commented Zaeske. He added that the program has one of the largest varieties of rare animal breeds on display. "The success of the farm program is due to the Friends," he added. "Our Omnibus, horse trailer, two teams of oxen, the horse powered treadmill, and much more was a direct result of the Friend's generosity," he said. The Friends also helped purchase new harnesses, formal driving attire including frock coats and top hats for drivers Zaeske and his assistant Tony Casper and an elegant four passenger vis--vis carriage. Originally a French aristocratic carriage, vis--vis means "face-to-face", and was designed to allow people to socialize more when riding together.

The other two bay teams, both 21 and 22 years old - Bonnie and Clyde, and Nellie and Lady - are used for a variety of lighter chores. Bonnie and Clyde were purchased in 1993 by Zaeske; a Percheron and Quarter horse mix, they get the lightest share of the work and are used to pull the haymower and deliver supplies to the farmsteads. Lady and Nellie, who are full sisters, were purchased in 1993 and originally trained by the Amish. A Percheron and Morgan mix, they are used for the winter wheat demonstration, to pull the vis--vis, and can figure out routes by themselves after one trip. Since they only weigh 1100 pounds each, they are perfect for their other specialty -- the two horse treadmill which is used to thresh out grain after its harvested.

Old World Wisconsin offers opportunities to learn how animals in pre-industrial days were used as the main source of transportation and power. OWW is open daily, 7 days a week, from May through October 31 and is located 25 miles from Milwaukee, 55 miles from Madison and 75 miles from Chicago. For more information on rates and classes, contact them at (608) 264-6586.
About the Author
Edna X Wilson is a writer for www.HorseClicks.com, popular classifieds of horses for sale, used horse trailers and land for sale.
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