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Longtime workhorse
Kate has a new job

Kate’s skeleton drew lots of attention and interest when displayed at the 2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show in January. (Photo courtesy of Ken and Kathy Hetrick)

This academic year, one local family’s beloved animal will play a very special role in the education of some Bradford County students.

Beginning in October, the Canton High School science classes and Canton FFA meetings will utilize the skeleton of Kate, a Belgian Draft horse that got her start on Whispering Dreams Farm in rural Millersburg.

Under the guidance of Tom “Mr. Hojo” Hojnowski, students will learn everything from beneath-the-skin injections to horse judging, musculature, and of course, bone structure, all thanks to Kate.

The teacher, a farmer and youth choir director in his spare time, happened upon Kate at the 2014 Farm Show in Harrisburg. The massive skeleton was a hit while on display, towering over visitors and garnering a lot of attention.

Hojnowski used FFA funds to purchase the learning aid for about $300 and the investment has paid off in his classrooms.

He said the agricultural classes discuss beef and dairy judging, as well as various meat cuts, simply by comparing Kate’s skeletal structure to the corresponding area on a cow or steeer’s body.

One of the students’ current projects is wrapping Kate’s skeleton with various colored materials to designate muscles, tendons and more. A veterinarian from Pennsylvania State University is scheduled to visit the classroom in the near future to provide further instruction.

Ken and Kathy Hetrick lost Kate to an impaction, which twisted her intestines. She had been one of the first Belgian Draft horses the Hetricks had brought to Whispering Dreams Farm.

Two years after burying Kate, Kathy and some of the farm workers dug up the skeleton, cleaned it and started the process of reconnecting the bones in their correct order.

Kathy said she used a book about putting together a moose skeleton, written by Lee “The Boneman” Post. She also used an equine coloring book for guidance.

“We literally finished two days before the Farm Show,’’ she said, adding that it’s “pretty cool that the skeleton will be used for educational purposes.”

In addition to preparing for the 2015 Farm Show in the hopes of adding to Whispering Dreams Farm’s burgeoning collection of ribbons, the Hetricks and their draft horses entertain crowds with wagon rides at various events and help others learn how to drive a team of horses.

The farm is home to all sorts of horses and the philanthropic couple started a Buddy Program to help Happy Tails Holistic Rescue, Rehabilitation and Sanctuary in Paxinos.

For information on riding lessons, boarding, carriage rides and more, visit or call 717-265-4024.

Hojnowski promised to share pictures of the skeleton “in action” and keep the Sentinel posted on classroom activities centered around Kate.