November 30, 2022 at 5:12 p.m.
Welles give horse-drawn wagon rides at Holiday Kickoff
Visitors at the Sauk Centre Area Chamber of Commerce’s Nov. 26 Holiday Kickoff in Sinclair Lewis Park had a fun surprise in store: horse and carriage rides from Dan and Deanna Welle from Welle Farms in Spring Hill. With Christmas lights, clopping hooves and jingling bells, the horses pulled riders up and down Park Road throughout the evening, only stopping when the sun went down.
Dan grew up on Welle Farms, which used to have dairy cows but, after a barn fire, now mostly raises steers and farms crops. Of course, they also raise and drive horses; Dan’s father, Vernon Welle, is 90 and continues to drive them.
“We always had horses when we were little,” Dan said. “We had riding horses, and my dad had driving horses, and we got into that. We have one son, Ryan; he rides horses with us a lot.”
The Welles also give horse and wagon rides throughout the year for weddings and other events in communities such as Richmond, Cold Spring, Paynesville, Greenwald, Lake Henry and Saint Cloud.
“Years ago, there were more people who gave rides,” Welle said. “Now, there aren’t too many left who do it, so we get quite a few calls to help out and do rides for a lot of local towns.”
The Welles’ harnesses, along with their “Welle” nameplate, were made by the local Amish; Dan is fairly certain he got the horses’ bell harnesses from Waverly, Iowa, where there is a large horse equipment sale.
The draft horses the Welles raise include Percherons and the smaller, lighter Norwegian Fjords. Two Percheron horses, Lady and Linda, did the wagon pulling for the Sauk Centre Holiday Kickoff rides, and they have their own personalities.
“Linda likes to pick on Lady all the time,” Dan said. “Today, it wasn’t too bad, but some days, they’ll be at a stop, and (Linda) will turn her head and nip at her.”
Granted, sometimes Lady slacks off a little.
“You want them to pull the same, but usually Linda does all the pulling,” Dan said. “She likes to be the boss.”
Next week, the Welles will be bringing their horses to an event in Richmond. They enjoy offering these rides, an activity that allows them to meet all kinds of people and answer their questions.
“A lot of them, it makes their day to go for a horse ride,” Dan said. “That’s what I like about it: making people happy.”