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Windermere Farms dominates Percheron show

Gerald and Melissa Allebach train Bentley, a 2-year-old stallion who won the Junior World Champion title at the World Percheron Congress in West Springfield, Mass., earlier this month.
Gerald and Melissa Allebach train Bentley, a 2-year-old stallion who won the Junior World Champion title at the World Percheron Congress in West Springfield, Mass., earlier this month. Photo provided

Even by Windermere Farm’s standards, it was a blockbuster show.

The Gregg Township farm, known for raising and showing prize Percheron draft horses, came away from the recent World Percheron Congress in West Springfield, Mass., with two top honors.

Bentley, a 2-year-old stallion, won the Junior World Champion title, the farm’s fifth consecutive world champion horse. He wasn’t Windermere’s only star. Abraham “Hammer” Allebach, 14, became the current Junior World Champion Showman, best in the 10-14 age group Oct. 6-12 at the Big E Exposition Center.

Windermere took 23 horses — nine more than the second-largest group of entries from an Iowa farm — and won 54 ribbons and 10 plaques, farm co-owner Gerald Allebach said.

He said this year’s World Percheron Congress, the world championship for Percheron breeders and owners, showcased about 1,000 horses.

“It’s held once every four years,” Gerald Allebach said. “It’s one of those events, it’s historic when it happens. It’s tough to get ready for, and it’s a very difficult event to win. It’s very prestigious, so we’re really thankful we did as well as we did.”

Along with his son, another Centre County youth shined at the show. Kayla Bracken, of Skyview II Percherons in Spring Mills, won the Senior World Champion Showman title, the other youth showmanship crown.

She’s the daughter of Pat and Kelli Cole.

“We’re really, really proud of both of those kids,” Gerald Allebach said.

Windermere also excelled in the Get of Sire class, in which three offspring of a stallion or mare are judged as a trio. The progenitor was “Moose,” the nickname of Windermere’s world champion stallion who died this year. The farm contributed two horses to the group crowned world champions in its class.

“Even after he’s dead and gone, he’s winning in the ring,” Allebach said.

Bentley, who stands at 18.1 hands and weighs about a ton, also carried on his father’s legacy.

Another son of Moose, he rose to the occasion in the halter competition, continuing Windermere’s decades of success. The farm started showing Percherons in 1976, four years after it began keeping them.

Allebach has high hopes that his wife and the farm’s head trainer, Melissa Allebach, will be able to lead Bentley to a senior competition world title in four years, ensuring that the spirit of Moose lives on.

“He died prematurely in May,” Allebach said. “His son is there to take on after him and follow in his footsteps, and absolutely is by winning the worlds. It’s kind of a fairytale story.”

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