These are big horses. Each one of them measures approximately 18 hands (six feet) at the top of their backs.

But the two Clydesdales moving restlessly around the portable pen in Pendleton's Roy Raley Park seem to be taking in all the activity surrounding the Pendleton Roundup relatively calmly.

This is a good thing, because with feet the size the average person's head and weighing in at an average of 2,200 pounds, they probably could just walk through the pipes if they wanted to.

But to Creighton Kooch they are just two of the nearly three dozen "big" horse he raises and trains on his 160-acre farm in Enterprise. Kooch was raised around draft horses. His father lived in Hermiston for more than three decades and always had draft horses, first Belgians and then the Clydesdales.

"My dad lived in Hermiston for 35 years," Kooch said. "Everybody in Hermiston knows these horses."

Kooch's equine charges are unique because unlike their more famous dark brown brothers who tout beer for a living, these horses have the familiar white feathered legs and blazed faces, but they also have coal black bodies. It was their color that first attracted the elder Kooch to the horses and it continues to be a trademark of the Oregon-bred horses.

Although he grew up around the horses, Kooch did not become really interested in them until he was in his 40s and decided he needed something more in his life than just his work as a masonry contractor.

He has been pursuing his "hobby" over the last 20 years. During summer he travels constantly to fairs and competitions throughout the Northwest. He raises all the hay for the big horses, who can eat as much as a half a bale of hay (approximately 30 to 50 pounds) each day and helps fund his operation by selling some of the offspring, nowadays often on the Internet.

"We have a 24-hour watch during foaling season and if we hadn't have had that I know we would have lost a mare," Kooch said.

Foaling is not the only difficult part of owning draft horses. It is often difficult to find qualified horseshoers who are willing to take on the job of shoeing a horse with really, really big feet.

"Sometimes I end up doing it myself,"Kooch said. "They say they want to do them, but they shoe them em once and you never see them again."

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