The sight of a team of draft horses – six Percherons to be exact – is a little unusual on the streets of Nevada.
But last Wednesday morning, there they were, stopped at the corner of Sixth Street and Lincolnway for a short time, before turning onto Lincoln Highway, heading west a block and then back north.
The team of horses was being driven by Raymond Helmuth, owner of Helmuth Equine, which is located at the north end of Fifth Street on the edge of Nevada. Helmuth, who has been training horses professionally for about 10 years, said he came to Nevada about a year ago when the perfect property came up for sale.
“I was looking for a place in Story County, because that’s where a lot of my shoeing clients were,” Helmuth said. He found the property on the north edge of Nevada, which had an “awesome barn. Just the kind of place I needed,” he said. He’s built an indoor arena there, too.
Helmuth, who was raised Amish near Hazleton in northeast Iowa, said he works mostly with training and shoeing of horses.
The team of six Percherons that he has been bringing into town are owned by a client of his. The horses just returned from the Oklahoma State Fair and are now training for a competition in Lansing, Mich., at the end of October.
The event in Michigan is a big fair, Helmuth said, so the horses have to be used to being on roads and hearing traffic and other noises. Helmuth said he planned to hook them up and bring them into town every other day or so as part of their training.
A lot of interesting looks are received, Helmuth said, when he brings the horses into town. Some people look excited, some want to stop and take pictures, and some scowl or get upset that they have to slow down or wait for the horses.
Helmuth said he got all his training working with horses back home at Hazleton. His decision to leave the Amish community, he said, wasn’t a popular one. That’s another story, and the Journal plans to interview Helmuth again this year to talk about his life.
Helmuth said he currently has about 20 horses that he is working with at his business. He also boards horses. Often helping him with his work is Mururi Bishop, who along with his dog Titan, were both with him last week when he brought the horses into town. Helmuth said there are also some students from Iowa State who help him with the horses from time to time.
As for the Percherons he is training now, Helmuth said they are good to work with. “Percherons are probably the highest-spirited of the draft horses, but draft horses are all pretty mild-mannered.”
Helmuth said coming to Nevada has been a good move for him - he’s staying plenty busy. “Business is good,” he said.