Tuesday, 17 August 2010 10:10

25 Years Ago Late Spring/Early Summer 1980

Written by  Maurice Telleen
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(From general news, the breed publications and our own 1980 issues.)

I’d say that Jimmy Carter’s presidency hit rock bottom on April 18 with the abortive Hostage Rescue Mission to free the 52 Americans being held in the American Embassy in Tehran. It was snakebit from the git-go. Eight helicopters full of commando-type troops were involved. When they landed in the desert to refuel, one of the choppers collided with a transport plane and eight soldiers were killed. To add insult to injury Secretary of State Vance, who had been against it, resigned. It was not one of our finest hours and a terrible humiliation for Carter. A bleak week for the former peanut farmer, submarine officer, president from Georgia.

Along about the same time, another one of Britain’s African possessions or colonies became independent. Formerly known as Rhodesia, it took the name of Zimbabwe. Who wants their country named after an Englishman named Cecil Rhoads, the diamond king who did more than any other man to enlarge the English Empire in Africa-including kings and generals? Not me, if I was a Zimbabwean. Britain’s Prince Charles personally delivered the documents granting them independence signed by Queen Elizabeth II. The new president was a man named Canaan Banana–really, I’m not making this up. “Good morning, President Banana.” So, the union jack came down and a new flag went up in yet another colony.

On May 8, there was a state funeral in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, as government big shots from around the globe came together to pay their last respects to Marshall Joseph Broz Tito who was “president for life”...really. It was written into the constitution adopted in 1963. Vice President Mondale represented us at the funeral.

Tito was one of the most remarkable men of the 20th century. He led partisan forces during the German occupation in WW II. After the war he governed this multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-religious mixture of Serbs, Croats, Slavs, Bosnians, etc., and managed to make a nation out of it. Tito was a communist, but unlike some of the leaders in other eastern European countries, he was not a puppet. When asked to jump by Moscow, he did not ask “How high?” but more likely “Why?” In June of 1948, he had successfully distanced himself from Moscow. His life was one of the most amazing political feats of post-WW II Europe.

Let’s throw in one more unlikely leader-a fairly new pope from Poland who took the name of Pope John Paul II. Twenty-five years ago this spring, this airborne (no pun intended) pope was traveling through five or six African countries including Zaire (another one of those “new names”). During an open air mass at the People’s Palace in Kinshasa, Zaire, seven worshippers were trampled to death on May 4, 1980. The crowd estimates ran as high as a million and a half which sounds impossible.

But it maybe sounded just a little less impossible here in Iowa than someplace in Wyoming, for instance. Because just a scant eight months earlier (October 1979) this same pope had made a whirlwind tour of the U.S. His seven day itinerary included places like Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Oh yes, there was one more. It was Des Moines, Iowa. I don’t know how many hours (not many) he was in Des Moines, but the main event was another open air mass at a place called Living History Farm on the west edge of Des Moines. And it was here that the crowd was estimated at 400,000, which I really couldn’t believe either. Nobody got trampled, but I still have trouble with that number even after witnessing the aerial movies of the event.

I think once you move into “estimates” almost anything goes. Another interesting thing, Des Moines got included on that schedule because of a letter written to the pope by a local parishioner at a nearby country church. It was only a few miles from the Sarchett farm and Jeannine and her parents were well acquainted with St. Patrick’s Church. The pope also held a brief service at that little Irish church–then flew by helicopter up to Living History Farm where, I believe, there was a team of grey Percheron geldings in residence at that time.

Foster, Jeannine’s dad, had an arrangement with Dewey Connor on some stock cows and their calves. It kept them in touch with that St. Pat’s bunch. Jeannine recalls a “saying” by one of those old Irish women that proved to be prophetic. Whenever told that thus and such needed cleaning up or doing, her standard response was...“Why, is the pope coming?” He did. But she was, by then, dead.

Speaking of interesting political events and superb politicians from that era, we had one right next door in Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. What better time to have a vote on French Canada going its own way than with a man with a name like Trudeau at the helm? The vote took place on May 20 and 54% of the French speaking voters joined with the non-French (or English) minority in voting “no.” So the residents of Quebec voted overwhelmingly to remain a French-speaking province in the English-speaking Canadian federation. Very good timing.

Tito and you’ve never thought of that pair as lodge brothers. But they both did some remarkable things.

Johnny Carson’s contract with NBC-TV was renewed for three more years at a salary in excess of five million a year. He was to host the program four nights a week, leaving Mondays and vacation periods to guests and reruns, and the format was cut from an hour-and-a-half to one hour. Probably due to advanced age. He was 54 at the time.

In the last issue I mentioned that Exxon had come in with a reported annual profit of three billion dollars. The following spring (1980) Chrysler reported the largest annual loss ever by a U.S. car maker–$536.1 million.

On July 19, the Olympic Summer Games opened in Moscow, but the athletes from three traditional powers were missing. They were the U.S., West Germany and Japan. So President Carter’s efforts to persuade others to boycott the games as a protest to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a flop. This just wasn’t Jimmy’s year. And a right decent guy he was, and is, too.

And now for a look back at The Draft Horse Journal of 25 years ago.

Twenty-five years-let’s see. That means I was 52 and Jeannine had attained the matronly age of 50. Two of our kids were off and running and the younger two were still terrorizing the faculty at the Waverly-Shell Rock public school.

That “other offspring,” the magazine, was growing rapidly with more pages, more trips to sales, plowing matches and shows, and more work and worries. It was time to hire an associate-so we hired a youthful Ben Webb who had recently completed a program at Iowa State. I can’t even remember the name of the program-it had something to do with agriculture. The magazine was then 16 years old and the press run was approaching 23,000.

There have been several young men since then who have served the Goddess of Journalism here at DHJ. Good fellows, every one, and Ben was the first. We recently had a surprise visit from him and enjoyed it very much. For the past several years Ben has been the rector at the Episcopal Church in nearby Cedar Falls. He was leaving soon with his wife and youngest daughter for a five month sabbatical and my guess is it will yield another book. Sure wish I could have known about sabbaticals–I might have taken another road. On the other hand, I don’t believe I would have–or even could have. I like to have my Sundays off. And Jeannine would much rather be a horseman’s wife than a preacher’s wife.

In this column last time, I mentioned Pat O’Sheel who worked for our state department and became addicted to Clydesdales while stationed in Great Britain. He wasn’t our only “foreign correspondent.” We also had one on the continent. His name was Ben Selcke and he was as keen on the Percherons in France as Pat was on the Clydes in Scotland. Ben now lives in retirement at Oxford, Alabama. Twenty-five years ago he provided us with a page full of pictures from France and every one of them had Percherons in them–not a single one of the Eiffel Tower. It pays to have friends in high places.

fountainhead of the “Belgians of Progress.”

The two warm weather issues of 1980 contained the two part story of “Harold Clark And The Matrons of

Meadow Brook.” That was just too big a topic to be confined to one issue-it took two. Then about ten years later when we did A Century Of Belgians In America that part was all done. You gotta’ both think ahead and reach back in this business. We will repeat the picture of Progress, the stallion credited with the founding of “Belgians of Progress” that came from Meadow Brook.

The Suffolk Association announced a grading up program. The number of Suffolk mares was precariously low and most of the mares imported from England in the 1970s insisted on producing stud colts. So it was decided to open up the stud book and to encourage the acceptance into the book as “Foundation” animals, some of the drafty, low center of gravity Belgian mares that the breed was, for the most part, leaving behind. In other words, the ones that looked like Suffolks anyhow. It was about as simple and straight forward as a grading up program could be, but it just didn’t work very well. So, after a few years, it was dropped. Too bad in my judgement. I thought it offered a real opportunity for the Suffolks to grow.

This is getting a little bit lengthy so I’ll wind it up with a couple pictures from the Circus World Museum Street Parade in Baraboo, Wisconsin, on July 5. The last big Old Milwaukee Parade had taken place in 1973. Then, with so much civil strife in the country, it was dropped. But that is only seven years and the country was still full of teamsters who hankered for those Old Milwaukee Days Parades. So when the invitations went out you can bet most of them were accepted.

As for that little town full of 50,000 people. I think that number was about right. I know if I hadn’t carried my own stepladder, I’d have been skunked on street hitch pictures.

Here is what we said in the magazine:


The Circus World Museum Street Parade on July 5 put the greatest array of hitches and historic circus wagons on the street since the days of the Old Milwaukee Days Circus Parades, which concluded in 1973. And they did it in their own hometown, Baraboo, Wisconsin.

To say that the teamsters (nearly all of whom had been a part of the Milwaukee Parades) enjoyed getting together and doing it again would be a serious understatement. They loved Baraboo...just as they loved Milwaukee during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Baraboo returned the favor, it loved the parade. Whenever a town’s population grows from roughly 7,000 to 50,000 for an event, you have to call it a success.

The county fairgrounds was the staging area. Stabling was good, the whole thing was well organized. Bill Schultz, Museum Director, and Bob Parkinson had the event well programmed...even to the point of staging a severe thunder and lightning storm the night before the parade, rather than during the parade.

I remember that ‘night before’ storm very well. It was of biblical proportions. Much of the horse contingent was staying out at the fairgrounds in campers, tents, and–in our case–a station wagon. That night got pretty wild. Mr. and Mrs. Gorden Fickett, from St. Paul, Minnesota, had a camper right close to where we were parked. I think Mrs. Fickett was worried about our kids, so they invited the four of us into their camper...sorta‘ a life boat just in case it rained 20 inches or so. Great people, those Ficketts. That is what so much of this draft horse business is about...great, unselfish, interesting people. Gordon was a Belgian breeder, superintendent of horses at the Minnesota State Fair, and a pedigree reader at the Cedar Rapids Sale for many years.



(From “Using Horses on the Farm”-University of Minnesota bulletin. Reprinted from Autumn 1980 DHJ)

I know, this issue is the wrong one for a spring article, but horses work in collars all year long. We ran this 25 years ago, and it was the wrong season then too. Since horses’ shoulders, necks and collars haven’t changed greatly, we think this little article deserves to be brought forward as well.

About the first of March, preparations for spring work should be started. The work horses should gradually be changed from a ration consisting largely of coarse roughage to one that contains a large proportion of grain and better hay. They should do a little work each day in order that the muscles may become hardened gradually. The amount of feed and work should be increased fast enough so that the horses will be able to go into the fields and do a good day’s work when spring work begins.

Special attention must be given to the shoulders at this time so that they will not gall. After the harness is removed, wash the shoulders with warm water and soap. Then rinse with cold water to which a handful of salt has been added. This treatment toughens the skin. It may be necessary to continue this treatment throughout the spring and summer. Small galls can be treated effectively by painting them with tincture of iodine.

Fitting Collars and Hames

There are several different kinds and shapes of collars on the market. The most common shapes are the regular or straight-faced, the half-sweeney and the full sweeney (see photos A, B and C). The regular or straight-faced collar should be used on horses with long flat necks. A half-sweeney should be used on horses whose necks are a little thick. A full-sweeney collar should be used on horses whose necks are very thick and whose shoulders are steep.

Each horse should have his own collar, which should be fitted properly. The size of the collar is determined by measuring the distance in inches from the top to the bottom of the inside of the collar. In addition to fitting the shape of the neck, the collar must be wide enough to allow a man’s fingers to pass up and down along the side of the neck between the collar and the neck. It should be long enough so that a man can put three fingers between the collar and the throat when the collar is pressed back against the shoulders. If the collar is a little large but fits the neck in every other respect, a pad may be used. The best kind of pad to use is one faced with oilcloth. It is cooler and easier to clean.

There are several kinds of collars on the market, such as the adjustable, the flexible, the sponge rubber and pneumatic, but the most common is the all-leather collar. Canvas collars are cheaper but do not last so long as the leather collars.

A collar should be put on and removed by turning it upside down and slipping it over the horse’s head. Continuous buckling and unbuckling breaks the bottom and makes it hard to keep the hames on tight. The face of the collar should be kept clean by washing with warm soap and water and drying immediately. Scraping roughens the collar, which in turn may cause sores to develop on the horses’ shoulders.

It is just as important to have the hames fit the collar properly as it is to have the collar fit the horse’s neck. The size of the hames should correspond to the size of the collar, i.e. 21-22 inch hames are needed for a 21-22 inch collar, 23-24 inch hames for a 23-24 inch collar, and so on.


Properly fitted hames.

The hames should fit the rim of the collar closely all the way around. They should be long enough so that the traces will be one-third the way up the shoulder. The top hame strap should be adjusted so that it will lie straight across the top of the collar. If the top hame strap is in the shape of an inverted U, the pull of the tugs will spread the hames at the top and cause sore shoulders.

Sore necks and shoulders should be washed with warm water and a little soap and the sore spots covered with zinc-oxide ointment or dusted with an antiseptic powder such as boric acid and alum. Small bunches on the shoulder should be painted with tincture of iodine.

Care of Harness

At least once a year the harness should be taken apart and cleaned, repaired and oiled. After the harness has been soaked about 15 minutes in lukewarm soapy water, each strap should be scrubbed carefully and rinsed. Add blacking where needed, and while still wet, oil with neatsfoot oil or a good commercial harness oil. If the harness is very dry, a second oiling may be necessary.

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