Taylor County farm to host national horse rendezvous
The Julian Family Farm in Taylor County is hosting the American Brabant Association Fall Rendezvous on October 1 and 2.
The American Brabant Association Fall Rendezvous is an event celebrating unique versatility of the American Brabant Horse. It’s also an opportunity for people to be introduced to the breed, learn about them and see them in person.
The event will be held at the Julian Family Farm at W1725 Faber Lane, Medford. The family farm specializes in raising and selling organic grass fed beef. They use their American Brabant draft horses to do fieldwork and logging. Their Fleckvieh cattle produce organic grass fed milk and meat.
Jason Julian is the current president of the American Brabant Association. The Fall Rendezvous event is a major undertaking which draws horse teams and their drivers from all over the country. Jason Julian has commitments of teams of horses from Washington state, West Virginia, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota and Tennessee as well as from other areas in Wisconsin.
He said they expect well over 30 horses representing the Brabant breed as well as other breeds of draft horses.
The free event is an opportunity for people to view and learn about the importance this versatile horse breed has for modern agriculture.
Origins of the American Brabant
The European Belgian draft horse is the foundation horse for the American Belgian, as well as several other draft breeds. Until about 1940, the Brabant European Belgian and the American Belgian were essentially the same horse. It was this horse that powered the world. After World War II, the Belgian horse changed in both Europe and the US. The horse changed much more slowly in Europe because horsepower was used into the 1950s, however, in the US the changes began immediately after the war since the US mechanized sooner. The Belgian was bred in Europe to be thicker bodied and more drafty, with heavy feathering on the legs, while in the United States the Belgian was bred to be taller, lighter bodied and clean legged.
In the United States, in fall of 1972, Albert Stankiewicz imported stallions and mares from Belgium because he was disturbed by the changes in the Belgian horse in the US. He used his imported stallions on oldstyle domestic Belgian mares in an effort to preserve the old pre-war work type draft horse. Anne Harper saw his stallions and partnered with Stankiewicz for several years importing stallions to breed to her old-style Belgian mares. Ultimately, Harper also began importing several stallions from Belgium to breed to old style domestic stallions and back cross with her European-American crosses. The entire project was designed to recreate and preserve the pre-war work type Belgian horse. In the process, Harper actually created the foundation for a new draft breed. Today that breed is called the American Brabant. Karen Gruner also spear-headed an importation of a group of European Belgian horses.
The European Belgian is raised in several European countries and goes by different names, depending on the country of origin; however, they are all European Belgian horses. In southern Belgium, the European Belgian is called the Cheval de Trait Belge or Brabançon. In northern Belgium, the European Belgian is called the Belgisch Trekpaard. In France it is the Cheval Trait du Nord, in the Netherlands it is the Nederlands Trekpaard and in Germany it is the Rheinisch Deutsches Kaltblut.
Visitors are welcome to attend the two-day event with a full schedule of activities each day. Visitors are reminded that no dogs are allowed on the grounds and no drones may be used.
Julian explained that they are looking for opportunities to help the horse teams coming from far away to cover some of their expenses. One such activity will be barefoot general horse pulls where attendees will have the ability to get to know the drivers and their horses and pledge an amount that they can pull with the money going to defray the team’s travel expenses. Top pledgers will receive ABA merchandise.
Friday, October 1:
8 a.m. - 8:45 a.m. Leg Evaluations (Saturday also).
9 a.m.-completion Halter Classes with Breed Standard Evaluations. Classes: colts/yearlings, 2-6 yr old mares, 2-6 yr old geldings, 7+ mares, 7+ geldings, stallions. Judge may touch legs, No putty or paint on feet, horses will be clean and groomed without products. Reasons for placement will be given for informational and educational purposes.
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Lunch on the grounds.
1 p.m.- 4 p.m. Obstacle Course.
4 p.m. Family Farm Innovations (FFI) horse mower demonstrations.
Saturday October 2:
8 a.m.-8:45 a.m. Educational talk on the Five Types of Belgian Horses (Hitch, Pulling, Original Farm horse, European Belgian, and American Brabant).
8:45 a.m.-9:30 a.m. Open Forum-Questions for the ABA Board “Communicating With Your Horse Using Lines and Voice” talk to fill in space possibly during this time.
9:30 a.m.-lunch Field demos-plowing, secondary tillage on Friday’s plowing, diesel powercart on cornpicker, FFI mower, big hitch on gang plow, 9 or 10 horses on 3 bottom plow.
11:30 a.m. -1 p.m. Lunch.
12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. wrap up field work and equipment demos, question and answer sessions, Ask a Master teamster, Breakout sessions-vendors, teamsters 2:30 p.m. -Barefoot Farm Pull.
Events taking place both days include buy/swap/sell for harness and equipment. Vendors will also be on site.