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Showing horses a family affair

Lone Oak Percherons of Birtle known throughout the world

A love of horses runs deep at Lone Oak Percherons of Birtle. Just how deep? Three generations, to be exact.

Jim and Darlene Lane got things started as pregnant mare urine (PMU) producers over 30 years ago, which presented them with a great opportunity to breed and raise their own stock. Since those early days, the operation has grown to a herd of 200 registered horses and a number of crossbred Percherons for the sport horse market.

Daughter Tina Collier, husband David, and their children Cortney (22), Chelsey (19), and Robin (15), all pitch in whether it’s on the ranch or on the road. And there’s a lot to live up to, as Lone Oak Percherons is a well-respected breeder in the horse world.

Three-year-old mare, Carman, capped off the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair (RMWF) in Brandon last month by taking top spot in the NAERIC Draft Horse Classic, beating out 12 others to be named the pattern winner and overall winner.

This follows another milestone for Lone Oak, when four-year-old gelding, Viking, sold for a record-breaking US$67,000 at the Mid-America Draft Horse Sale in Gordyville, Illinois, America’s premier marketplace for Belgians and Percherons. This makes Viking the highest-selling draft gelding of all time, surpassing the previous record holder — Harry, a six-year-old Clydesdale gelding that sold for $60,000 at the 2014 National Clydesdale Sale.

“We are very proud of Lone Oak 12 Viking,” said Tina. “Lone Oak Percherons are known to be strong in the show ring.”

Like the farm, hitting the road to a show is also a family venture. Jim drives the horses in all divisions and is the show master, son-in-law David manages the horses, operation and crew, Tina’s job is to promote, feed, and decorate the stalls, and the three girls all show and help when time permits. Jim’s wife Darlene usually runs the farm while the enterprise is away.

“On average we normally take nine horses to the shows including six for the hitch and some young stock to show on halter,” said Tina. “The showing of horses is always evolving, adding in new ones with the majority being our home-raised Percherons.

The prime age of a hitch horse is between three and eight years old. From a six-horse hitch perspective, the wheel team is drafting and tallest, the swing team is a little smaller than wheel, and the lead’s main job is to show the hitch, so these horses need to have action, lift their shod feet high and lead the hitch in style. Each team has to be well suited to each other and overall hitch needs to look uniform.

Tina said the best thing about being a show person is “promoting our own home-raised horses, meeting and greeting many new other breeders from all over the world, and of course, being directly involved in the show community, which is truly like family.”

Along with Jim, who celebrated his 70th birthday with family and friends at the 2017 RMWF, members of the Collier family can be found in a variety of classes. In the youth division, Robin placed fourth in both cart and halter at the World Percheron Congress in Des Moines, Iowa last October, and sister Cortney placed second in the halter division at the World Congress a few years prior.

“Along with Robin’s achievements, in the six-horse gelding division, Lone Oak Percherons placed 11th overall, three-year-old mare Carman placed fifth in the futurity division, and our young stallion and four-horse hitch also did well,” said Tina.

They won’t have so far to travel for the next World Percheron Congress (held every four years), as the show is coming to Brandon in 2022.

“Competing under the Lone Oak Percherons’ banner, the horses are a shared venture between the Lane and Collier families, and the awards are shared as well,” Tina said.

For only the second time in 30 years, Lone Oak Percherons weren’t in attendance with a hitch at the RMWF this spring, due in part to being committed to the Iowa fall show. However, the farm name wasn’t completely missing in 2019, as the families attended the NAERIC Draft Horse Classic, winning the event with three-year-old mare Carman. Lone Oak also had a colt in the futurity sale.

The love of horses runs deep in the Lane and Collier families, as does the joy of simply being around their gentle giants.

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