January 2017 Issue - page 4

Page 4
January 2017
By Marcella Peyre-Ferry
How many horses can you
drive at one time? For Dave
Rohrbach of Bee Tree Trail Per-
cherons, the answer is fifteen.
Draft horses are a popular
feature at the Pennsylvania Farm
Show each year, and Bee Tree
Trail is usually a crowd favorite,
not only for the beautiful horses,
but for the innovative ways that
he drives them.
This year, the most unusual
exhibition at the Farm Show will
take place on Tuesday, January
10 at 5 p.m., when Rohrbach
will present a fifteen-horse team,
hitched in a pyramid pattern. He
will be hitching the team in the
show ring for the audience to see
while he explains the process.
Rohrbach presented the fif-
teen-horse hitch at the Farm Show
several years ago. “We have done
the fifteen once before, in 2014,” he
said. “We never planned on doing
it, but it was always in my mind. It
was something kind of last minute.”
Normally Rohrbach keeps
just six horses at Bee Tree Trail,
but for big events where addition-
al horses are needed, he borrows
back horses that he has owned or
trained. Having personal experi-
ence with them, he can trust that
they will respond well.
“Basically, two or three of us
can put it together, but when you get
to a place like the Farm Show and
you have all these draft horse peo-
Bee Tree Trail Percherons Presents Fifteen Horse Hitch
ple there, everyone wants to help,”
Rohrbach explained. “We have a
bunch of people on each side, and
one on the box to hold the lines. As
we hitch each horse we throw the
lines up on the wagon to hold.”
One aspect of Rohrbach’s
training is that he does not have
anyone hold the horses while they
are being hitched.
“The horses are programed to
stand by themselves. I don’t allow
people to hold our horses. Our hors-
es are big enough they should be
able to hold themselves,” he said.
Five Lines Per Hand
There are a few challenges
to driving so many horse at once,
but that does not phase Rohrbach.
“I drive with five lines in each
hand. Each row of horses has a
right and left for each row, so I
have five right and five left. I’m
steering each individual row, all
the horses in that line are attached
to that row,” he explained.
Bee Tree Tail’s horses range
from 17.1 to 18 hands and weigh
an average of 1,900 lbs. each. For
the fifteen-horse hitch, they will
be put to a show wagon weighing
about 3,000 lbs. Now add the
energy of show horses and the
power is dramatic.
“There’s a difference between
draft horses in farming and draft
horses in showing. A hitch horse
comes with a lot more spirit than
the farm draft. The horses are bred
for animation, their legs move
totally different from a farm draft
which would travel like a plea-
sure horse,” Rohrbach explained.
“When you get to a hitch horse,
you get to a horse that, 40 percent
of the time, has a mind of its own.”
Rohrbach will be showing
some of his other unusual driving
skills at the Farm Show “We
will be on display from the 7th
to 14th, and every day except
Monday, we put on some kind of
performance,” he said.
Tentatively scheduled for
Tuesday, January 10 at 1 p.m. is
the mini vs. draft horses challenge,
where Rohrbach and his Perche-
rons are challenged to do whatever
a miniature horse in harness can
do on an obstacle course.
On Thursday night, Rohr-
bach will present a “suicide
hitch”. For this challenging
demonstration, only the wheel
horses of the six-horse team are
hitched to the vehicle. The front
four are connected only by their
reins. He can play out the reins
so that the leaders are as much as
65 feet in front of the vehicle, and
still remain in control.
Bee Tree Trail, based in
Shartlesville, PA, is in demand
locally and across the nation
for private events, community
parades, exhibitions, charitable
events, movies and television.
For exhibition times, check
the Farm Show website schedule
For more information about Bee
Tree Trail, visit
Dave Rohrbach of Bee Tree Trail Percherons in Shartlesville, PA will present his 15-horse hitch of matched Percherons at the Farm Show
on January 10. The hitch, in which horses are hitched in a pyramid formation, also appeared in the Farm Show’s Equine Arena in 2014.
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