ISO Draft Horses at Frying Pan Farm Park

DanTraining1Wanted for long, caring relationship. Seeking big, strong animal, yet warm, tender, and good with children. Will provide loving home and lots of good meals. You have a tough act to follow.

It has been six months since the death of the last of the two draft horses at Frying Pan Farm Park’s Kidwell Farm, and the search continues for a team of horses to replace Jesse, who passed last year, and Michael, who died in 2013. Particularly after Michael’s death, Jesse was one of the farm’s most popular attractions.

Prior to Jesse’s death, Frying Pan had draft horses for more than three decades. The park uses draft horses to pull wagon rides and other antique farm equipment for demonstrations. They fit well under Frying Pan’s mission to preserve a piece of Fairfax County’s rural heritage on the working demonstration farm. Kidwell Farm recreates the era from 1920 to 1950, when family dairy farms blanketed the county landscape.

Although Michael and Jesse had not been doing much work for the past few years, they were still popular with children and adults alike. “These animals were beloved,’’ said Park Manager Yvonne Johnson.  Up until his death, Jesse still wanted to be petted and scratched.

The search for a new team began after Jesse’s death so as not to upset him, Johnson said. Jesse was 35 when he died, and it took a lot of work to care for him. Johnson said the park is committed to taking care of the draft horses for life, even after they can no longer work.

No one at the park knows how long it will take to find the right team. The ideal draft team will be a well-broken duo of geldings between 7 and 12 years old, able to work for 15 years, added Farm Manager Paul Nicholson.

The horses have to be able to pull wagons, take part in demonstrations and work in the crop fields. They must be comfortable around children and be able to tolerate noises and lots of activity. And they have to be in top-notch physical condition, so retired horses need not apply.

Frying Pan is looking in the Amish community, scouring livestock auctions and networking. Nicholson said two other parks in the region also are looking for draft horses, and they are sharing resources.

Johnson said, “This is a big deal, a major undertaking. Kids get very attached to the horses.” They are one of the few animals the farm keeps long term, and the staff is looking for a young healthy team that can handle the rigors of a working farm. That’s not easy to find.


In the meantime, park staffers are being retrained to work with a team because it’s been a few years since they’ve had working horses.

The fields, stalls and wagons are ready. “We’re just waiting for the right team,’’ Nicholson said.

Author Lori K. Weinraub is a volunteer writer for the Park Authority and a former national journalist for The Associated Press.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

2 thoughts on “ISO Draft Horses at Frying Pan Farm Park

  1. Golly Martin

    Contact Gentle Giants Draft Rescue in Mt Airy, MD — (

    They will take care of you!!


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