Kingfisher Man Can Train Anything
The Breda News, reprinted from the Okarche, Oklahoma
newspaper, September 1970
In 1963, Joe Mueggenborg [son of Henry and Dora
Boes Mueggenborg, grandson of Anna Nieland Boes] of Kingfisher,
Okla., passing through Poteau, saw ox teams being used to pull
Joe was fascinated. He knew that ox teams had been
used in the early days of the west, to pull wagons and plows,
but he had never seen any working before.
Joe thought about it. He reckoned that if folks
at Poteau could break and train oxen, he could, too.
Now, seven years later, he has experienced the fun
of breaking teams of Brown Swiss, charolais, Texas Longhorns and
buffalo. He has hitched them to covered wagons, and driven them
in parades all over Oklahoma and southern Kansas, winning many
trophies and a substantial amount of cash.
Starting with a pair of Brown Swiss weighing about
1,000 pound each, Mueggenborg had the help of a friend, Joe J.
Reherman. On his subsequent breaking operations, he had some help
from his sons, too, but did most of the training himself.
On the first go-round, he could shout "gee"
and "haw" at the animals, and that helped them know
what he wanted them to do. Then in 1965, he underwent throat surgery,
including the removal of his vocal chords. Since then, he has
done his breaking without benefit of voice. It hasn't been easy.
The "two Joes" had the Brown Swiss team
well broken in time to drive them in Kingfisher's Diamond Jubilee
celebration in 1964. A huge crowd witnessed this parade, and the
oxen were a hit. From that time on, there were lots of invitations
to participate in other parades. The "Joes" were glad
to go, but first they took time to shave off uncomfortable four-month
whiskers grown for the Kingfisher celebration.
In 1965, Mueggenborg bought two Texas Longhorns
at a Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge sale. "They were a
mess," Joe recalls, but he stayed with them until they were
100 percent broken. Their last public appearance was in the Chisholm
Trail Museum dedication parade in Kingfisher, last April.
In 1966, Mueggenborg sold his Brown Swiss team at
$900 on the Oklahoma City market. They had become too big to haul
around and to handle. They made a lot of hamburger.
The Texas Longhorns have since been sold to Kenneth
Hill, northwest of Kingfisher. They were getting pretty hard to
handle. Last year, at an Edmond appearance, they got loose and
took a corner off a house and wrecked a clothesline. If Vince
Mueggenborg, who had been holding them, "had not ducked,
he would have had his head sheared off by the clothesline,"
He purchased three buffaloes at the wildlife refuge
in 1968, and broke them to drive. "But," he warns, "never
trust a buffalo." He had a team of them hitched to a wagon
in his pasture in May 1969, when the bull broke loose and ran
away. It was four days later when Joe found him on an Indian allotment
five miles southwest of Kingfisher. The animal had jumped cattle
guards and fences, and swam Dead Indian creek, (then 20 feet deep)
with his harness on. Joe engaged local cowboys Sam Trent, Bill
Dean and John Harrison; they brought the buffalo bull out of the
bush in a hurry, over fences and all, with his harness dangling.
Trent got skinned up a bit in the operation.
"It beat any rodeo I ever saw," said Joe.
Currently he is putting finishing touches on training
a young Charolais team. It's a job requiring infinite patience.
First the animals must be taught to lead. Then they are hitched
to a sled, which is safer then a wheeled vehicle for training
purposes. Pulling a wagon comes last.
Ox yokes are a bit hard to find, so Joe made his
own, (three of them). He fashioned them from cedar longs obtained
from Clifford Leitner, Kingfisher, and Fred Taylor, Oswego, Kans.
A hatchet and pocketknife were the basic tools used.
Joe, now 67, retired from active farming in 1966,
but has continued to raise chickens, turkeys, peacocks, ducks
and some game chickens. He also has a milk cow and some pigs and
sheep. Kindergarten teachers each year bring their pupils from
town, just a mile away, to view the fowls and animals and to take
rides behind Joe's unusual teams.
Joe and Mrs. Mueggenborg [Teresa Ann Schaefer] now
have bought a home in Kingfisher, and will move there about Oct.
1. They have lived on the farm since they were married 44 years
ago. The farm will be operated by a son, Vernon (one of nine children
in the family), but Joe expects to continue training oxen there
and perhaps have some other animals and birds.
He is tied to the place with a lot of memories dating
back to 1920. G.P.Krittenbrink, who was living there then, asked
Joe to help him clean a nearly dry cistern. Krittenbrink let Joe
down into the 16-foot cistern on a rope, and at the bottom he
was surprised to encounter a five-foot copperhead. Joe won the
encounter, killing the snake.
He farmed there with horses and mules, first with
his father, the late Henry Mueggenborg, and then for himself,
until buying his first tractor in the early 1930's.
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