Ruth Deters, owner of Detersmination Equestrian Center, said she was surprised but honored to host the team of rare black and white Clydesdales at her facility, located near the Maple Island Road and Pontaluna Road intersection in Muskegon County’s Fruitport Township.
“I have to admit, I was so surprised when I got the call to house them that I thought it was a scam,” she said.
But the Express Clydesdale team needed a farm where they could get in with a 53-foot semi-trailer. They also needed larger stalls because the horses are so big, Deters said.
And they needed to be relatively close to their events, which include two Tulip Time parades in Holland, and meet-and-greet events for Express Employment Professionals in Grand Rapids and Muskegon.
The handlers are all friendly and accommodating, Deters said. They have been very open to having people visit the farm to see the horses.
Deters said it’s been a long, hard road to get to the point where an operation like Express Clydesdales would consider staying at the Detersmination Equestrian Center. The facility boards about 26 horses right now and 35 in the winter, she said.
There’s also a separate set of stalls for temporary housing for horses being trained. That’s where the Clydesdales have been.
The horse farm was originally built for the race horses running at Great Lakes Downs, located in Muskegon County near The Lakes Mall. When the track closed, the farm was sold and went through several owners.
Deters said she picked it up in a foreclosure sale 11 years ago and has been working to fix up the facility — as well as its reputation — ever since. Deters said she couldn’t have done that without the help of her daughter, Gabrielle Deters-Snider, who is the head trainer.
And certainly, the publicity of hosting the Clydesdales doesn’t hurt, she smiled.
Deters said Express Clydesdales is paying her normal short-term boarding fees.
Express Clydesdales was started in 1998, after owner Bob Funk first saw the horses at a facility in Regina, Saskatchewan. He invested in some horses and brought them back to Yukon, Oklahoma, and started a new tourist attraction.
Since then, the horses have traveled across North America, acting as ambassadors for Express Employment Professionals and helping raise funds for charities. They also participate in many parades.
The horses arrived at the Nunica-area facility on Sunday and will participate in their last local event on Saturday — the Muziekparade in downtown Holland.
For more information on Detersmination Equestrian Center, visit detersminationfarm.com. For more information on the Express Clydesdales, go to www.expressclydesdales.com.
• Most of the horses weigh about 2,000 pounds
• The Clydesdales are roughly 18 hands high, which is about 6 feet, 4 inches at their shoulders
• The handlers use lime to make the horses’ legs white and shiny
• The horses staying in Nunica this week range in age from 5-8 years
• The Clydesdales don’t eat much more than any other type of horse