The newest staff members at the Schaumburg Park District’s Volkening Heritage Farm wear shiny brown coats, prefer hay as their go-to snack and weigh about 1,800 pounds each.
Brothers Bob and Dick, Belgian draft horses, recently joined the Farm, 201 S. Plum Grove Road. In addition to pulling the wagon for wagon rides, they will assist with mowing, plowing and planting. The horses also will participate in demonstrations during special events such as Autumn Harvest Festival and Springtime on the Farm.
“They’re doing a wonderful job and they’re great with the public,” said Jon Kuester, farm operations manager.
Standing about 16 hands, or 64 inches tall, Bob and Dick boast a commanding presence. At 8 years old, big brother Bob takes more of a leadership position of the two horses and watches out for his younger brother, Dick, 7. As draft horses, they were bred to do heavier work as opposed to being ridden.
“They’re more interested in daily tasks,” Kuester said. “We go and harness them and put them on the wagon and they’re perfectly happy. That’s what they’ve been trained to do.”
Draft horses play a major role in maintaining the historic accuracy of the Heritage Farm—a working farm based on 1880s rural and agricultural life in Schaumburg.
“Horses are an important part of our programming,” Kuester said. “We can do a lot of farm work with modern equipment, but to recreate the experience of a 1880s farm, you need horses. Farmers in Schaumburg simply couldn’t have existed without draft horses.”
Prince and Duke, the Farm’s former draft horses, are about 20 years old and retired to the same Indiana farm where Bob and Dick were purchased. There, they’ll do light tasks to keep them active and exercised.
For more information, call (847) 985-2102 or visit www.parkfun.com.