Lake Norman & Mooresville

Horse 'bug' bites Mooresville brothers

Jason Hunter, 36, and his brother, West, 40, are Mooresville residents who own and operate Hunter Construction Group Inc. located on Timber Road in Mooresville.

In 2006, Jason and West bought what is now referred to as Hunting Creek Farms in Hamptonville, Yadkin County.

Soon after, Jason and his wife, Krista, caught the horse "bug" after going to a couple of draft horse shows.

About three years ago, Jason bought his first Clydesdale and began training for competitions. The Hunter brothers built a barn on the farm's property that was finished last spring and even used bricks from their grandfather's old farm house.

Jason now owns about 18 Clydesdale horses and caring, training, and attending horse shows is something that both Jason's family and West's family participate in.

Clydesdale horses - made famous by being stars of some notable Budweiser advertising campaigns - have earned the nickname "gentle giants" for their strength, agility and docile nature. They are a breed of draft horse (or work horse) that originated in Scotland and are generally large horses.

According to Jason, there are about 60 hitches, or groups, of Clydesdales around the United States.

"Work horses are the horses that built our country," said Jason. "They built our infrastructure back in the early teens. Before the car, this was the car."

The Hunter family won the 2011 World Clydesdale eight horse hitch championship, which Jason refers to as the "Olympics of Clydesdales." In a hitch class, eight horses are hooked together to a wagon, and the horses pull the wagon.

"It is not a race, or about how much weight a horse can pull," said Jason. "It is about eight horses being together as one."

The horses are judged on how good they look and how in sync they are with one another. Obviously, training the horses to work together takes an extensive amount of time, and they are usually trained in pairs.

Chip Lawrence is the trainer/manager of Jason Hunter's horses. He manages and trains the horses throughout the year and is the driver of the wagon at the horse shows.

The Hunter family participates in about three competitions and two parades per year. Their next competition will be the National Clydesdale show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in August 2012.

It takes two 18 wheeler semi trailers to haul the horses, wagon, and all the equipment to a horse show. Additionally, a team of people meet the Hunter family at the shows from various points around the country including Indiana, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, to carefully groom the horses so they are in pristine condition for the show.

Although Jason and West Hunter manage their construction company in Mooresville, they head up to Hamptonville at least every other day to take care of business at the farm.

A caretaker cares for the horses and the property on a day-to-day basis.

West explains that there are many goals for Hunting Creek Farms. The Hunter family wants the farm to be self sufficient and wants to promote farming and the farming way of life to kids in the local school systems.

"We want to teach them how their food gets to the table," said West.

Additionally, Hunting Creek Farms' goal is to become an event facility, especially for weddings. Jason and his wife, Krista held their wedding reception on the property.

As one might imagine, there are a lot of family gatherings at Hunting Creek Farms.

The pinnacle of the property is the pre Civil War white farm house that sits on top of a hill. The Clydesdales, however, are a bonus.

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