Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Sharing Heart

If you'd like to take a step back in time, when life moved at a slower pace, or if you'd just like to blow some of those cobwebs out of your mind and get a 'Fresh Air Life' start on the new year, I'd suggest a leisurely, open air horse-drawn wagon ride pulled by Kelly Kloppenborg's team of majestic Clydesdale horses.

Kelly, who has been employed by the Natural Resource District in O'Neill, Nebraska for six years as a water technician, is also co-owner with his brother Kirby of the Emmet Hay Company. The business was started in 1909 by the Cole family, and Don, Kelly's father, bought the business in 1970.

Kelly and his wife Terry of Emmet, Nebraska, (population 77), have been sharing the pleasure of their Clydesdale horses by providing others with a glance back at how farming and transportation was before the automobile.

'Horse power' is our operative word here...these 'gentle giants' who "have a good disposition and are well-behaved", were bred as work horses. Kelly has used the horses for "all facets of the haying operation"; mowing, raking, sweeping, pulling the hay stacker up, etc., and also for planting and harvesting oats and a bit of dirt work.

Long before Emmet Hay's Centennial year, Don Kloppenborg had the idea of using the Clydesdales to demonstrate how the hay operation was carried out before modern farm equipment did the job; and in August of 2009, 100 years after the inception of the business, the Kloppenborgs featured working demonstrations in a day long event on the outskirts of town.

In 1999, when Kelly had bought his first horses--a mother and daughter, he decided to "let other people enjoy the horses the way I do"and began giving horse-drawn wagon rides. He had the horses bred, resulting in a colt from the mother, and the day I was taking these pictures, the brother and sister team--'Hank and Dixie', were pulling a wagon full of laughing Kindergartners and their teachers.

Along with school children, he also provides rides for wedding parties, carolers, family reunions, and non-profit organizations such as 4-H. Recently he donated a sleigh ride to the Faith Regional Hospital in Norfolk, Nebraska for their fund raiser, and locally he donated a wagon ride to a local church's auction that was purchased by a young engaged couple to be used for their July 2010 wedding. The Kloppenborgs also enjoy 'teaming up' with other horse owners who drive about 6 miles out into the country in covered wagons to have a family style old fashioned picnic lunch.

Kelly currently has 6 horses that he uses together or separately. His daughter, grandson, and father also help drive the horses, so it's a "family thing".

When I've seen the horses moving down the street at a brisk trot, their bells jingling and riders waving and joyfully shouting to passersby, I'm thankful of the Kloppenborg's willingness to give back to their community in such a wonderful, fun and sharing way.



  1. Oh ..what a beautiful story.... the horses are magnificient!
    Thanks for sharing ....

  2. Oh Joy, when I opened this post, I just couldn't take my eyes off the picture of Mr. Kloppenborg...What a kind, sweet countenance he has...He reminds me of my twin brother (who looks nothing like me), especially in the eyes.....He's just someone you'd want to know instantly...and who is obviously delightful to know...

    What a beautiful bio, Joy...thanks for sharing...

  3. WoW this is right up my alley. I love horses, the bigger the better:) What beauties. And what big hearts these people have. Nice post! Hope you're doin well!

  4. Thank you for the story about the Clydesdale horses. They are one of my favorite horse breeds. On the farm I grew up on we had draft horses, and they were "gentle giants". My brother and I always rode them, bareback, and not bridled! We would just jump on and hang onto their horsemane and off we would go. Seeing this story brought back fond memories. I grew up riding horses almost everyday in the summer herding cattle. We would lay on the horses back and read or nap while "they" tended the cattle!Thanks for the story!

  5. A lovely story Joy. Hank and Dixie are wonderful horses - thank heavens for people like the Kloppenborgs who are keeping the breed going. We have a breed of horse here in Suffolk called 'Suffolk Punches' and coincidentaly I was thinking of doing a post about them too!

    Jeanne x

  6. Hello! I found your blog when I was looking for an image of the Elkhorn River in Nebraska. What a pleasure to see your posts and photos. And with the music, I could have transported myself right in. If you don't mind, I want to keep you on my sidebar. I'm doing a blog about my great-grandfather traveling west in a wagon train in 1847. This was worth the search for the river.

    Thank for the wonderful moments.


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