By Jennie Zeitler
Snow or no snow, Jay Tesch of Long Prairie uses his lifelong knowledge of horses to delight people looking for a heaping dose of Christmas fun through a sleigh ride or wagon ride. Tesch gives rides at Cornerstone Pines Tree Farm between Grey Eagle and Long Prairie, owned by Chuck and Kathy Parker.
Whether by sleigh or by wagon, the annual rides began Saturday, Nov. 30. They will run Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 15 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The rides wind along groomed trails through majestic oaks, evergreens and ponds, deer trails and other wildlife
Tesch grew up farming with horses.
“My grandpa didn’t believe in tractors, and my dad and his brother farmed with horses, too,” Tesch said. “We lived a lot like the Amish. We did have electricity and running water, but we heated the house with wood and used horses for farming.”
Tesch only uses a tractor to bale hay, after using his horses to plow, plant, cut and rake it. He also grows oats and some corn. He is in the process of buying the farm where he grew up, near Long Prairie.
He used to raise quarter horses and still has some quarter horse-Haflinger (small draft horse) crosses. One of his best horses was a mare out of Two Eyed Jack (leading all-time sire of American Quarter Horse Association champions) that he used for roping and just about everything. Most of his horses now are Percherons.
“My horses have gone to Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Virginia,” said Tesch.
After so many years spent around horses, Tesch is able to read horses very accurately.
“I’ve broken a lot of horses other people couldn’t break,” he said. “They were pushed too fast or too hard. Or else people try to break all horses the same. Horses are different, just like humans.”
Tesch much prefers a smaller size of horse.
“I like the 16-hand horses because they are easier to work with and seem to have more power,” he said. “My dad always said that, and I’ve heard the Amish say it.”
Ailing horses are more likely to find themselves doctored by Tesch himself with simple remedies for minor problems.
“The old remedies work,” he said. “I use table sugar to heal eyes and wounds — it draws out the infection. Barn lime stops bleeding and works well in deep wounds. Iodine disinfects and pine tar is good for healing wounds in feet.”
The sleighs and wagons used for the rides have all been built by Tesch.
“I rebuild my own horse equipment — mowers, plows and manure spreaders,” he said.
He rebuilds the bobsleds he uses and has built one from scratch.
Tesch operates a livestock and flatbed hauling business, and goes to draft horse sales all over.
Tesch offers rides all year, and is booked for the annual Heritage Days in Burtrum every August. He does weddings and private parties.
“The best time to come out is when it’s snowing,” Tesch said.
For more information about Cornerstone Pines rides, call (320) 732-3299 or visit www. cornerstonepineschristmastrees.com.
Contact Tesch at (320) 309-1771.