Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Adventures in draft horsing-around

So genealogy.

I've been trying to stalk my grandmother, Marie, but it turns out I need to stalk all her siblings, both spouses, and her parents in order to know her better.

Her second husband is an interesting character. By the time I knew him, he was on his better behavior, as it turns out, than in his younger days.

Here he is at about 24, when he signed up for WWI. Later he not only continued his farming life, but like most farmers, also raised livestock. He chose Herefords and was a member of the National Hereford Association.

And he raised and bred Belgian horses! I received some documentation on some horses he acquired and bred, at least those he registered, anyway. And after WWII, when the big shows started back up again, he had some contributions to make. He always talked about horses, but even so, this caught me by surprise. He died in 1981, and here it is 2015, and I'm reading about his work. It's belatedly exciting. Genealogy is so weird.

So anyway, when the Dairy Congress (that's a location) had the National Belgian Show, Ralph took some of his horses over to Waterloo, Iowa, to exhibit. What I DIDN'T expect was this:

Ralph loved a good joke, a good slice of pie, and apparently, a good jumping horse. Not the kind of jumping you might expect at a draft horse show; I can only guess at the story behind it.

Had he heard about someone doing this? Did he just have a horse who loved to jump? I've heard there are a couple breeds of cattle who jump like deer and are hard to fence due to their vertical abilities.

Anyway, I can see Ralph just loving this and enjoying talking to people about this. He always wore a big light hat; I assume that's the back of his head in that photo. (BTW, I'm shocked at the relative high quality of the photo, which I got as a pdf. Yay!)

Go Ralph! Can't wait to find out more about you! By the way, the reason I don't know this kind of info about someone in my very own family is because Ralph married my gran late in life. They were 60-something when they married.

And I still can't find out much about my grandmother, Marie. But the tangents are pretty interesting!

Fooling around is not all Ralph did that year, for sure. He was serious about his horses. Here is a quote from a book published in 1976:

"In October 1946, Ralph Prill showed a team of blonde sorrel Belgians with white manes and tails at the National Belgian Horse Show in Waterloo, Iowa. As three- and four-year-olds, the pair weighed 2200 pounds each, were perfectly matched and had plenty of action. The team placed second in the show, just below a team owned by the widow of John Dodge of Dodge Brothers Motors. The Dodge team had never been defeated in either the United States or Canada. Ralph kept his fine team until the next June, then sold them to a cattle feeder near Omaha for $675.00. Today (1976) the pair would bring $3,000. No other team from Holt County (Nebraska) was ever entered in the National Belgian Horse Show." -- "Before Today; the history of Holt County, Nebraska" by Nellie Snyder Yost, Miles Publishing, 1976.

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