A pair of Belgian draft horses named Molly and Prince became Minnesota’s latest viral video stars when, with a mighty pull, they towed a semitrailer truck up an icy driveway.
The display of raw power on a ranch in southeastern Minnesota was captured on video by the truck’s driver after his big rig got stuck.
Ranch owner Lizzie Hershberger said she threw the short clip onto Facebook to share it with a few friends. Since then there have been 700,000 views of her video, calls from reporters across the country and a mention on “ABC World News Tonight.”
“It’s quite amazing how a video can go viral from little Minnesota,” she said.
The stars of the video are both 13 years old, and a more typical workday for them on the Hershbergers’ 80-acre spread near Canton, Minn., involves hauling logs or, in the summer, a parade float. This Christmas season they’ve been hired to pull a few sleighs.
Hershberger said she and her husband, Jacob, are former Amish who like to continue some of the customs they grew up with, such as teaching their children the Amish language and using horses for work around their property. The couple bought Molly and Prince about six months ago, Lizzie Hershberger said.
“He’s semiretired from the trucking, so he bought himself these Belgians and he just loves them. He uses them multiple times a week,” she said.
This summer Molly and Prince will take their show on the road, pulling a covered wagon in the Friendship Wagon Train, a weeklong ride from North Branch to Rochester that for the past 30 years has raised money for organizations that help adults with developmental disabilities.
But the giant pair have never pulled a truck before. It was after an icy snowstorm last week, and the Hershbergers’ driveway became more treacherous than usual. “Awful,” said Lizzie.
The Hershbergers anticipated that it could be difficult driving and weren’t surprised when a truck driver spun out Wednesday morning as he attempted to return an empty trailer to the Hershbergers. A second truck was waiting at the bottom of the driveway, so Jacob hitched up Prince and Molly to clear the way.
In the video, the horses stand at attention on the gravel drive as Jacob readies them for the pull. He has put a spare tire in the chain linkage between the horses and the truck, its stretchy response allowing the Belgians to take a step before feeling the truck’s full weight. After one or two heaves, they ease forward, the harnesses straining with their effort. It helped that the horses wore their winter shoes, a specialized set with spikes on the bottom, said Lizzie, who shot her own short video.
After some of the heaviest pulling got the rig closer to the top of the driveway, a tractor was able to push the truck from behind to help Molly and Prince finish the job.
Lizzie said she “didn’t plan for this to go crazy” when she shared the video. A friend who works at a Michigan television station was among the first to pick it up, she said. It went viral soon after.
“It’s a neat story. We just like the idea that horses still get used, and I think that people just aren’t really aware of that.”