Horses tow 10,000 pounds in PA Farm Show contest
In this corner,
weighing in at a combined 3,325 pounds – Skip and Dave. In the other corner, or
actually lined up with eight other teams of horses and also weighing in at a
combined 3,325 – Wilbur and Jim.Nine teams competed in the crowd-pleasing
lightweight horse pull in the large arena of the
Farm Show Tuesday afternoon.
In a contest requiring the elite athletes of the equine world to show their
brute strength by pulling a sled loaded with increasingly heavy cinder blocks,
it came down to Skip and Dave, owned by Jay Kessler, of Millerton, Bradford
County, and Wilbur and Jim, owned by Billy Howard, of Acme, Westmoreland County,
owner of last year’s lightweight champion team.
Near the end, Skip and Dave thrilled the crowd when they executed a “full
pull” --- 9,600 pounds pulled 27.5 feet. But Wilbur and Jim also completed a
full pull, sending the competition into one final, 10,000-pound haul. Skip and
Dave won by pulling the sled the farthest – nearly 11 feet, to Wilbur and Jim’s
six feet-four inches.
Skip and Dave’s triumph gave Kessler his first win in a horse pull
competition against his father, Ira Kessler, of Orangeville, Columbia County,
who entered Dan and Dick in the competition. Jay Kessler grew up among his dad’s
horse pull competitions, enjoying “the horses and the camaraderie,” he said.
“It comes down to which one is stronger that day,” said Jay Kessler while
readying his horses to enter the ring.
Massive pull horses – often Belgians and Percherons -- train like athletes,
putting in three or four hours of pulling logs or sleds every day for
competitions that last a few seconds with each draw.
Mike and Todd, owned by Tom Bowman, of Orangeville, Columbia County, placed
third on Tuesday, winning $400. With prizes ranging from $500 to $210, owners
admitted that they’re not in it for the money.
“It’s for bragging rights,” said Bowman.
Bill Fisher, from the Syracuse area of New York, said that pull horse owners
spend thousands on feed and on travel to competitions throughout the states.
“The vitamins alone will break you,” he said.
Only Pennsylvania horses were allowed to enter the Farm Show competition, but
Fisher said he came to see the show. Like race horses, good pull horses get
excited when the hitch is connected to the sled and the teamster drives them
forward, Fisher said.
One form of exercise they typically don’t do is drawing wagons full of
children during hayride season, because the best pull horses are aggressive,
Fisher said that pull horse competitions started from the work horse
tradition, when farmers would brag about whose team could pull the most weight.
Bowman said that the horses are ready for competition because “they’re trained
“They’re trained just like a weightlifter,” he said. “They’re trained to pull
a big load.”
The Farm Show's heavyweight horse pulling contest, featuring teams whose
combined weight exceeded 3,325 pounds, followed the lightweight competition.
Article courtesy of PennLive.com