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Dave Olson, Published October 18 2012

More than horsing around

WADENA, Minn. – Tom Schmitz has been around horses his entire life.

He purchased his first team of Belgian draft horses at age 16.

Today, he and his wife, Mary, continue the tradition on their rural Wadena farm.

“It’s just a relaxing thing,” he said of the effort that goes into raising and training the big workhorses.

And work they do.

“We mow some hay and rake,” Tom Schmitz said.

“In the wintertime, I use them for plowing snow. I have a snowplow special made for horses.”

For many years, the family raised standard Belgian draft horses, but about six years ago they began to specialize in the Brabant Belgian, a breed that commands higher prices, though that “kind of varies on the color,” Schmitz said.

He said the price of a Brabant colt can range from $1,200 to $1,500, while the price for a regular Belgian might be $400 to $800.

His largest Brabant stands 16 to 17 hands tall and weighs about 2,200 pounds.

Schmitz has a barn for his horses, but much of the time they prefer being outside.

He recently sold a number of horses, all of them bound for Utah.

The animals he sells are usually bought to do farm work, though some are given jobs giving people rides.

Horse breeding is a sideline for Schmitz, whose main job is driving truck.

He said each of his horses have their own personality.

“Some of them really seem to like the work better than others,” he said. “Some of them are testy every day.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555