Dris Abraham grew up on a small family dairy farm in Amish country in Holmes County, Ohio, where his family still milks 40 cows on 160 acres. Dris worked for a dairy, driving a milk truck to collect the milk from his neighbors, and eventually hired on with the state of Ohio as a game warden in 1993. In 1995, he quit his wildlife job as a game warden for the state of Ohio and bought three fillies from Leroy Stutzman, establishing Rx Acres. One of those mares, Stony Point Mark Freda, is still in his barn, bred for a 2015 foal. In addition, a fifth generation mare offspring will also foal in 2015. Dris rented a farm in Mansfield, Ohio, and worked for Alvin Miller and Henry Raber, hauling horses and equipment to logging sites and other locations, while developing his own farm at home.
In the Spring of 1999, Dris took a job at Hale Farm and Village, a historic property in Bath, Ohio, where he managed the living history farm. That autumn, unable to find experienced teamsters to work on the farm and drive the horses, Dris began what has become a lifelong passsion for him: teaching others to drive and work with draft horses. In early 2002, Dris learned of an opportunity at Historic Prophetstown in Battle Ground, Indiana, to develop and manage their public horse drawn powered farm. In 2004 he bought his own acreage where he would operate Rx Acres, his horse breeding farm while continuing to expand and upgrade the systems at Historic Prophetstown.
By 2012, Historic Prophetstown was offering a wide variety of clinics and workshops to people from all over the country interested in learning how to drive horses and be more successful with their existing horse farming programs. The clinics attracted beginners and experienced teamsters alike, including members of the National Guard from a variety of states interested in using the techniques being taught by Dris in their work in Afghanistan and other foreign locales.
By 2014, Dris realized he'd developed his program about as far as he could at Historic Prophetstown and needed a setting that offered him more autonomy. He is in the process of setting up a farm with 120 acres of cropland and 360 acres of pasture, called Heavy Horse Equipment, near Indiahoma, Oklahoma, where he will be able to offer clinics, workshops and private instruction with fewer restrictions than were imposed at his earlier locations.
“We want to demonstrate to people how they can use their horses on their farms to get the work done safely and profitably, and help make their investments in horses and equipment pay for themselves,” Dris says.
Melissa Brown is the Manager of Equine Operations at Heavy Horse Equipment and co-owner of RX Acres.
While attending Purdue University, Melissa started working for Dris Abraham at Historic Prophetstown in Lafayette, IN. In the spring of 2004 she started at Historic Prophetstown doing daily chores of milking and breeding shorthorn cows, tending to layer chickens, raising wean-to-finish pigs, and feeding, mucking stalls, grooming, harnessing, and driving the mares. This included handling and driving mature broke mares on the tourist trolley farming and eventually green-broke mares spreading manure and farming.
In the last 6-8 years, Melissa has routinely been training the young foals and begins the driving training of the 2-year-olds before they start working in the fields. She has been starting unbroken 2 year-olds, training for both RX Acres and for outside owners. She also experienced being on the road, showing in halter and hitch classes.
Melissa earned her degree in Animal Science in 2005 and started with the breeding and foaling management of the RX mares and learned to collect and breed the stallions. Because of her desire to improve and passion for the details of reproductive physiology, she attended Equine Reproduction short-courses at both Ohio State and Colorado State. Since 2006, Melissa has managed the RX Acres reproduction operation including the artificial insemination program. She has bred mares through artificial insemination, collected RX and outside-owned stallions, cooled and shipped semen shipped to clients, and foaling at RX Acres.
Melissa also teaches equine reproduction clinics with Heavy Horse Equipment and has conducted clinics for mare owners, including three per year in cooperation with Purdue Extension. These two-day Reproduction Clinics include mare fertility, stallion virility, advantages of artificial insemination process over live cover, and ultrasound of an ovulating mare, and foaling procedures. Participates have come from numerous states as well as Canada, Australia, Argentina, and England. Melissa has become the go-to source of experience and education for draft horse mares and potential stallion managers in the Midwest.
RX Acres Belgians | 22637 Highway 19 | Roosevelt OK 73564 | (765) 479-0369