Posted on Dec 2, 2014

A local Hutterite family brought their team of Percheron horses to Heartland.

Percherons are a breed of powerful draft horses known for their intelligence, ease of handling and their willingness to work. They can maneuver through mud and snow in conditions where even modern tractors fail. Since Percherons are so versatile, they are a welcome addition to many modern farms.

But this team (Lucas and Alexander) is only used for recreational purposes. And on a recent hayride, the horses took off on Paul, the driver, and he couldn’t regain control. Apparently this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. So if I couldn’t get to the bottom of their behaviour issues – the family planned to sell them. 

But when I started ground driving them, they pulled on the reins evenly, were very well-mannered and doing exactly what they’re supposed to do. Then I added a wagon to the mix. And they delivered the same result, acting like the perfect team. 

So what was really going on?

The answer began to emerge when I asked Paul to come to Heartland to drive the team. He was defensive and tense from the outset. He allowed too much slack in the reins and when the team began to pick up speed, he failed to pull back on them enough to regain control. 

It became clear that the issue was with Paul, not the horses. But he refused my help and didn’t want to discuss it further. Then, Paul’s sister, Hanna, admitted that Paul isn’t comfortable around the horses. In fact, he’s afraid of them. But he’s too proud to tell, Walter, his father. It’s actually Hanna who has the close connection to Lucas and Alexander. But she swore Georgie and I to secrecy, so it looked like the team would be sold.

But then, when Paul saw how upset Hanna was at the prospect of losing the horses – he came clean to his father. As a result, Walter decided not to sell this beautiful team. But really, a lot of the credit belongs to Georgie. In the end, the truth only came out because of the strong bond she had formed with Hanna.