Texas Thunder rolls into the National Western
Fort Collins, Colo.
The Texas Thunder hitch from Priefert made a spectacular entrance into the arena at the 101 National Western Stock Show. Aptly named, the six matched, black Percherons charged into the arena pulling the white Priefert wagon driven by Jason Goodman.
The draft horses are known as ‘Gentle Giants’ and are bred to work, but this hitch is much more spirited. “We have actually looked for some of the ‘hotter’ horses of the Percheron breed for the performances,” said driver Jason Goodman, “that way, when we come into the arena, the crowd can feel the energy coming off the horses.”
Percherons are the real giants of the draft horses. They are larger than the famous Clydesdales from Budweiser. The average size of the Priefert Texas Thunder hitch is 18.2 hands. There are two horses, Andy and Kong, which are over 19 hands. It was somewhat disconcerting to be talking to Jason, who is over six feet tall, and see a horse’s nose over six inches above his head. This, of course, meant the horse just towered over me.
To put this into perspective, in horse-speak, a ‘hand’ is about four inches and is measured from the withers. That means that Kong, at 19 hands, is 6’3″ tall at his back. When you consider that the average thoroughbred is 16 hands or 5’4″, you can see that a Percheron at 19 hands and over 2,000 pounds is really huge.
The horses and the Texas Thunder wagon are driven to events in custom designed Priefert 18-wheelers. They travel with eight horses, but only six are hitched a one time. As you can imagine, six, high spirited, 2,000 pound draft horses can really move a wagon. All in a days work for the Texas Thunder driver, Jason Goodman.
Jason and his wife have a lot of experience with draft horses. As Jason puts it, “I grew up with Belgian draft horses, the same as my wife, Rose. I’ve been driving since I was about ten years old. We used them to haul feed to the livestock everyday on my parents place in Wyoming. It was in the Arvada/Clearmont area, right on the Powder River.”
Rose Goodman is originally from Iowa and the couple lived in Fort Collins for nine years before moving to Mt. Pleasant, Texas in 2002 to go to work for Priefert. The Texas Thunder hitch also has a Colorado connection. Driver Jason Goodman elaborates, “We were helping some folks out of Colorado Springs ” Brookharts Lumber ” who had a Percheron hitch. Brookharts Lumber used to sell Priefert panels, so the connection was already there. Brookharts sold their draft horse hitch to Priefert Ranch Equipment. My wife and I applied for the job and in the spring of 2002, when the horses went to Texas, we went with them.”
If you have spent any time in ranching, the name Priefert is pretty familiar to you. In 1964, Marvin Priefert, built his first headgate for his neighbor in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. The revolutionary design caught on and the rest is history. Since that time, Priefert Manufacturing has become one of the largest ranch equipment manufacturers in the world with over 350 employees at their Texas facility.
Priefert has moved into rodeo equipment in a big way. Their roping chutes were used for the timed events at the WNFR and the same equipment was hauled to the National Western Stock Show and used there. They sponsor some top names, like Adriano Moraes, Chris Shivers, Kelly Timberman, and Speed Williams, from the PBR and PRCA. Priefert also has a contract with the PRCA and the PBR to supply them with chutes and panels. Priefert chutes are even used on the TV show “Cowboy-U” which airs on Country Music Television.
They also have a very good web site devoted to rodeo, and, of course, Priefert rodeo equipment. Check it out at http://www.priefert.com/roughstock. There is plenty of rodeo news there and some excellent screensaver downloads of your favorite PBR cowboys.
Priefert’s commitment to rodeo is also evident in the fact that the Texas Thunder hitch has recently qualified for a PRCA Specialty Acts card. They are the only hitch in the country to have a PRCA card.
If you did not have a chance to see the Texas Thunder hitch with its black Percherons while they were at the Stock Show, you will have another chance March 14 -16 at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in Denver. Go out and see these magnificent horses and marvel at the driving skills of Jason Goodman.
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