Feed teams transition to parade teams
Kaycee – If you happen to see a team of four flashy dapple gray Percherons around the Wyoming State Fairgrounds this next week, chances are they’re from Kaycee.
What began as feed teams for Kaycee’s Mike Cushman has been stepped up to the team of fancy Percherons.
“Back in the 1980s we leased a ranch where the owner had a six-up exhibition hitch, and I asked if I could help him when I had the time. That’s when I started getting around draft horses, and when I learned to drive a six-up,” says Cushman of his early experiences.
Through the years, Cushman continued to feed with teams of his own. “Now we’ve become a little fancier, and people sure enjoy them. We like to keep horses that people like to see,” he says.
From the feeding routine Cushman has moved on to weddings, funerals and special events in the region. “We loaded the little kids up and took the local daycare kids around last week,” says Cushman.
The lead team of his four-up Percheron hitch Cushman has had for six years, and they came from Kansas City, Mo. The wheel horses, part of the champion six-up hitch in last year’s Calgary Stampede, were purchased out of Washington. The Percherons replace a team of Belgians that Cushman used to use.
“At the State Fair we’ll be at the rodeo performances as part of the acts between events, and we’ll bring the honorees through the arena,” says Cushman, who’s also in the State Fair Parade, carrying the Wyoming State Fair Board of Directors.
“We’ve been at the State Fair with the gray horses for five years,” says Cushman. “This is the first year we’ve stepped up to the four-up rather than a team. The wagon is so large, it’s difficult to pull with a single team, so that’s why we’re using four.”
The Wyoming State Fair wagon the team pulls belongs to the state. It’s stored in Douglas through the winter, and Cushman picks it up and keeps it through the summer. Cushman also has his own wagon, which was used at Kaycee’s Chris LeDoux Dedication in June, that he found, rebuilt and painted. “It’s turned out to work really well for us,” he says.
In addition to the LeDoux Dedication event, Cushman and his team have been at the Legend of the Rawhide in Lusk, Cheyenne Frontier Days, the Goshen County Fair parade in Torrington, Deer Creek Days in Glenrock and in Buffalo for the Johnson County Fair parade.
“We’re off a week, then we head for Douglas,” says Cushman of the week prior to State Fair. “This time of year we keep busy and put on a lot of miles.”
In addition to Wyoming events, Cushman says he has traveled as far as just outside of Denver, Colo. for a wedding. “We have a carriage and a people-hauler for bigger parties and shuttles services,” he says of the events that keep his horses busy.
In addition to the traveling with the team, Cushman ranches and raises cattle near Kaycee. His wife Julie also helps with the horses, and he says daughter Alicia helps considerably with hauling and driving the horses. He adds his daughter Kara is as deeply involved as possible. “She purely enjoys them,” he says.
“People are welcome to come visit the horses at the fair,” says Cushman of the team, which will be housed in the horse barn.
Christy Hemken is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.