Wisconsin: Ripon, Go for the Horses

Meeting the horses!

(Written by my niece, Jaime Kamps-Duac)

I like horses and I have wanted to have my horse most of my life. But because I live in a city this is not going to happen… So when I go on vacation with my family I look for horse farms to visit, places to ride.

Have you ever been to a Clydesdale horse farm? I found one in Ripon, Wisconsin. Clydesdale horses are the really big horses that pull wagons in circus parades. You may have seen them at Busch Gardens in St. Louis or Tampa or even at Sea World in Florida. Seeing them pass by and seeing them up close are too really different experiences. In Ripon at Larson’s Clydesdale Farm getting close is easy and fun. I had the good luck to go to Larson’s Clydesdales with my two grandmas for a tour and show. I call it my Clydesdale encounter.

Ripon is in the central part of Wisconsin which means rolling hills, horses, cornfields, dairy farms, and cheese. (The cheese part is another story.) It is known as the home of Ripon College and he birthplace of the Republican Party. To me it is known for horses, Larson’s Clydesdales to be specific.

Our day began with a back country drive connecting county roads with lettered markings. Both of my grandmas were born in Wisconsin and each had commentary about how much had changed as well as how much was exactly the same. We arrived at the farm a little early and had to wait. Fortunately for us Judy Larson, the owner, opened the gate. She invited us to meet the horses first thing. Better than I had hoped for, I was able to pet the horses while they were eating hay and drinking water. During that time, she talked about each one of the horses and how they got to the farm. My favorite horse was Reggie. He was named for his big size after Reggie White on the Green Bay Packers football team.

Larson’s Clydesdale Farm is not just a tourist attraction, it is a working horse farm. The Larson family lives on the farm and spend their days caring, raising and training the horses. Their horses win lots of awards in national competitions. On the tour we saw the oversized truck and trailer used for ravel to horse competitions. I watched as she saddled up one of the horses. I learned that when they compete in shows with other Clydesdales, it takes 15 minutes for each horse to get fully dressed. So, if eight horses are pulling a wagon it will take two hours before they are ready.

One of the best pats of our day was the chance to pet the baby Clydesdale named Jewel. I learned that she weighed 200 pounds when she was only five days old. She was still too cute for words.

I met the owner’s daughter who was already dressed in the outfit she would be wearing for the riding demonstration. She directed us to the snack bar. We purchased popcorn and sodas and took our place in the grandstand. I was amazed at the skills of the riders and the agility of the horses. It was a great family outing but then it always is when I get to do things I love to do. I’ve been to many horse farms and this one is one the best. The horses are awesome and the staff attentive to dumb questions from visitors. Just one hint, if you do go take bug spray.

(Get the whole story at Wisconsin: Ripon, Go For the Horses, at www.TheFamilyTravelFiles.com)

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