The horse stalls are empty for the first time in over 30 years. Jesse, a Percheron draft horse, passed away earlier this week at the age of 35 at Frying Pan Farm Park.
Jesse was a part of the beloved duo known by thousands as Jesse and Michael and could always be found pulling wagon rides and other antique farm equipment for demonstration purposes. When not working, they would be grazing in pastures with the other farm animals, or standing in their stalls waiting for the next child to be helped up by their parent to reach Jesse or Michael’s face and gently caress them. Michael passed away two years ago, and Jesse remained one of the farm’s most popular attractions.
“The farm will look a bit vacant for right now without Jesse,” said Todd Brown of the Park Authority. “Jesse was a wonderful part of Kidwell Farm and will be missed.”
Brown, who was previously the site manager at Frying Pan Farm Park, helped find Jesse and Michael years ago when new draft horses were needed.
“I got a call from someone in the Virginia Draft Horse Association who told me there was a team in Manassas we should see,” Brown reflected in 2013. “Honestly, I thought Manassas? How would a decent team of horses be in the urbanization of Manassas?”
After detailing a trip down Route 234 and their subsequent arrival at Frying Pan Farm Park, Brown shared his deep feeling of personal connection with these special horses.
“In my 22-year park career, including days at Frying Pan and now at agency headquarters, I have had hundreds of great days. But the best days are by far the ones spent behind the butts of those gentle giants. Taking Jesse and Michael out to the field to work or driving them on the road for a wagon ride for the public, I felt like the type of farmer my dad and his dad were. Those days allowed me, for a while, to make my life journey parallel that of my father, grandfather and my heroes. So I thank Michael and Jesse for that and for so much on behalf of thousands who forged their own experiences because of the team. I am proud to say that I was the first person to drive those horses at Frying Pan Farm Park and the last one to have them in harness there. Drive on guys, you will be missed.”
Thousands of families visited Jesse (and Michael) through the years. We invite you to share your reflections (or likes) below.