July 30, 2014

Tim, longtime draft horse at Old Cowtown Museum, dies at age 23

Tim was a big horse with an even bigger heart.

Tim was a big horse with an even bigger heart.

The Percheron draft horse that greeted and pulled thousands of visitors in a wagon and stagecoach around the living history complex at Old Cowtown Museum died this week. He was 23 years old.

Tim was born in 1991 on the Maynard Krehbiel farm near McPherson, according to Mike Tracy, a blacksmith and teamster at Old Cowtown. Tim’s half-brother, Barney, was born on that same farm two years later.

The two equine brothers learned early on to work as a team. They went to live and work at Cowtown in 1997, helping pull the museum’s farm equipment and wagons through the dusty streets at Cowtown.

He was a horse that playfully liked to knock things over – tools, buckets. But when it came to people, he always was calm and patience.

“You always hear people talk about how their horse was the best in the world, well honestly, I’ve not seen another team of horses like these,” said Gregory Hunt, farm manager at Old Cowtown. “We had them at gunfights, at shooting competitions, and they were rock solid through that.

“And because we are in a museum setting, we would have toddlers run up and grab their legs and as they walked through the streets, they would dodge strollers and children and other slow-moving visitors.”

Hunt’s voice broke as he talked about the horse, as did Tracy’s.

Tracy remembers one group of visitors in particular who came to visit Tim. One visitor was an adult who used a wheelchair and always stared at the ground.

“Tim always liked to lower his head and blow his breath at visitors,” Tracy said. “He did that with babies in strollers.

“Well, this one guy was looking at the ground and when he felt Tim’s breath, he rose up in his wheelchair and was trying to hug Tim.

“Tim was so big but so gentle and caring – whether it was taking a morsel out of a child’s hand or making a person’s visit special.”

Tim is survived by his half-brother, Barney, who lives at Old Cowtown.

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