|By DOUG GRAVES
LEBANON, Ohio — To say Delbert Cook of Warren County, Ohio was the envy of many is an understatement.
Cook, 75, once owned four Hallmark card shops, a video store and even operated a one-hour photo business.
Money was no obstacle for Cook, whose father raised him on a Warren County farm.
“We moved to Warren County from Augliaze County north of Dayton,” Cook said. “I farmed with my dad up until 1958. Then we sold most of the land and eventually quit farming. I had a few draft horses, and I never got back into farming. ... But I got interested in Miniature Horses about 25 years ago.”
Cook was employed by the Central Ohio Breeding Assoc. When he moved to Warren County in 1962, he had his hands full dealing with registered Holsteins, but a few years later began investing in things other than farming.
The businesses put food on his family’s table - he and his wife, Virginia, raised three girls. But Cook wasn’t entirely happy. His discovery of the Miniature Horse changed all that.
“My wife liked horses but didn’t want big horses,” he said. “I had two big horses but had to give those up. I have just four Miniatures now, but I had as many as 10. It’s therapeutic and gives me something to do. I raise Miniatures because it keeps me active. When I want to get away from it all, I go out and talk to the horses because they don’t talk back.”
His stable includes Blaze, Banner, Pebbles and Pumpkin, all registered Miniatures.
He puts them to work by participating in the Lighted Christmas Parade in Columbus, the Dayton Children’s Parade, the Lebanon Horse Parade and the Otterbein Retirement Community Parade north of Lebanon. He has been invited to show them at the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington.
This past spring two of his Miniatures were used in the production of Oklahoma at nearby Lebanon High School.
“I like these animals because they have a disposition of a horse, yet they’re not expensive to own,” Cook said.
“They’re not expensive to purchase, yet I’ve seen some which fetch thousands of dollars.”
A bit of feed and one apple a day is the treat for his stable of four.
And Miniature Horses aren’t the only creatures to roam his premises. Cook also tended to 65 ostriches before the bottom fell out of that market.
This farm news was published in the Oct. 4, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.