Horse industry loses icon

By Martin Graham - [email protected]

Dr. Donald Edward Mossbarger and “Feelin Friskie.”

Dr. Donald Edward Mossbarger and “Feelin Friskie.”

Fayette County and the horse and harness racing industry lost an icon on New Year’s Day when Dr. Donald Edward Mossbarger passed away.

Dr. Mossbarger, 92, of Bloomingburg, passed away peacefully at his home Thursday.

Dr. Mossbarger was born March 28, 1922, in Ross County to John S. and Frances Scott Mossbarger. He graduated from Clarksburg High School in 1940 and went on to receive his doctrine of veterinarian medicine from Ohio State University in 1945. It was this same year he started his large animal veterinary practice.

Mossbarger worked hard as a large animal vet, according to his sons, Jay Mossbarger and Dr. John Mossbarger. In 1967-68, after Hog Cholera was eradicated, he opened Midland Acres, a Standardbred horse breeding farm in Bloomingburg. The years of work finally came together and his large animal practice merged well with this new business.

“I think the thing was, dad was 48 years old when he started Midland Acres and it took courage to get involved in a new industry,” John said. “He started a breeding farm from a large animal veterinary practice. Converting it into a breeding farm was a major undertaking at that time.”

“Him switching fields was a good thing,” Jay said. “He had some very good friends his age and from his generation that were in the business and pushed him toward it.”

During his life, Dr. Mossbarger worked hard and was given high honors from several institutions. Among those were being inducted in 2000 to the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame and in 2014 he was selected as the 30th Little Brown Jug (a world-wide famous horse race) Wall of Fame honoree by the Delaware County Fair. He was also awarded Ohio State University’s Veterinary Medicine Distinguished Alumnus Award for his “outstanding contributions in the advancement of veterinary medicine”. He even was honored by the City of Washington Court House and was selected as the grand marshal of the annual Christmas parade in 2001.

“The ability for us to get the sires we did is part of our success,” Jay said. “My dad’s demeanor and hard work also with people trusting him really helped to allow him to excel so much during his life.”

“We also like to credit the success to Bob Schwartz as well. He really had a lot of influence and helped our dad a lot,” John said. “He really trusted him and he even said it himself that Bob was one of the biggest helps in the success of Midland Acres.”

The memories these two have of their father were of his hard work and ability to connect and do good business with so many people. Jay said he enjoyed his farm and his vet practice, and when he was kid that he and John would go and visit with all of the neighboring farms. They spent many Saturdays “holding hogs” and they remember how kind his dad was to everyone.

“He had a passion for his vet practice and he developed a core value system that I like,” John said. “His values of taking care of that practice and being committed to the farmers. The farmers were his best friends and it was fortunate that he was able to work a lot of times with his friends.”

“This wouldn’t sound like it would to most people, my dad did very well, but he was never the kind of ‘making money kind of guy’” Jay said. “He wanted to do a good job and do things right and that made you money. That was my dad, he was always one to want to take care of everyone to the best he could, because it was what he did.”

Another value the two remember most of their father was his commitment to his family. For him it was always about what needed to be done for whoever else needed it, rarely thinking of himself. He would make sure his family was taken care of, and would help whenever he could.

“I always felt very fortunate. When I ran into a problem I would find myself saying, ‘Now what would my dad do?’” Jay said. “He was a pretty wise cat. He was also a gentlemen, and was so very courteous to people. He was the type of man who could eat with kings and walk with peasants.”

“I remember he told me one time, and it is something I passed on to my girls, hard work doesn’t guarantee you anything, but without it you have nothing,” John said.

Midland Acres, Fayette County and the entire horse and harness racing industry will mourn for their fallen icon, but just as their dad did, Jay and John will continue to work hard and make an impact under the Mossbarger name.

Dr. Donald Edward Mossbarger and “Feelin Friskie.” Donald Edward Mossbarger and “Feelin Friskie.”

By Martin Graham

[email protected]

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.