Dr. Brian Heuring carries on family tradition, raising champion draft horses

Dr. Brian Heuring of Cape Small Animal Clinic and Meadow Crest Stables stands with a young Belgian draft foal Ivy and her mother Sierra as another mare, Rose stands in the adjacent stall at his stables in New Hamburg on July 29, 2020.
Aaron Eisenhower ~ B Magazine

Most people who know me know I love horses, specifically Belgian draft horses. I grew up raising them on my family's farm in New Hamburg, Missouri. These horses resemble Clydesdales, stand nearly seven feet tall, and weigh 2,000-plus pounds. But they are truly Gentle Giants.

Our Belgian horse farm sits in the heart of New Hamburg, on the very same ground where my Grandpa Charlie first lived. He brought the first Belgian horse home more than 50 years ago, and it's been a family tradition ever since. My own father, Norman Heuring, Sr., started showing the horses in the 1980s under our farm name: Meadow Crest Stables. Dad and Grandpa are now gone, but I am proud to say the tradition carries on in its third generation.

While I primarily treat pets at the vet clinics my wife, Lauren, and I operate -- Cape Small Animal Clinic and Bootheel Animal Clinic of Sikeston -- our entire family enjoys caring for the horses at home. Carrying on a long-standing family tradition takes work, time and the help of friends, who are more like brothers to me. In fact, we could not complete the twice-daily feedings, grooming and hauling alfalfa hay without them.

Still, our draft horses provide a sanctuary from the stressors of everyday life. Our barn is a gathering place for many neighbors, friends and family. We share many "toasts" after we come home from local, state and national shows. Just two years ago, Meadow Crest Stables was home to the National Champion Belgian Stallion!

While winning a national show was unforgettable, one of my favorite horse outings continues to be hauling Santa Claus in our wagon each year in the Old Town Cape Parade of Lights. For as long as we live, I do not think my wife and I will ever forget the looks on our two young daughters' faces, as they see Santa and Mrs. Claus climbing into their own horse wagon year after year.

While the medals and trophies provide gratification after all of the hard work, raising these horses means more to us. It's about spending time together, teaching our kids responsibility and carrying on that long-standing family tradition. In fact, I even had Hank William Jr.'s famous song lyrics, "It's a Family Tradition," inscribed onto the wagon seat, just to keep it all in perspective.

Dr. Brian Heuring is owner and veterinarian at Cape Small Animal Clinic in Cape Girardeau and Bootheel Animal Clinic of Sikeston.