Kurth coordinates festival horse pull
Ogema dairy farmer inherits his
interest from father, grandfather
Last Updated: Thursday, September 23rd, 2004 09:15:29 AM
Ogema resident and
horse pull enthusiast Dean Kurth and children, James,
Sandra and Jordan, are pictured with his current Belgian
horse pulling team.
Dean Kurth, who has been involved in horse pulling contests for
15 years, is coordinating the horse pull to be held Sept. 25
during the Ogema Christmas Tree Festival. He also plans to enter
his team in the pull competition.
"I guess horse pulling is in my blood," he said. "My dad,
Marvin, participated in horse pulls for many years and, at one
time, my grandfather, Frank Kurth, was considered one of the
best horse pullers in the state."
Most of the horses used for pulling are Belgians, Kurth said,
although occasionally, a team of Percherons, another breed of
work horse, will also be entered in a pull. He noted that a
Belgian horse usually has a reddish colored hide and can weigh
up to 2,700 pounds.
"To have a good seasoned team, they need to do about five miles
of pulling each day," he said. "The work sled they pull will
weigh about 1,000 pounds."
About six to eight weeks prior to the first pulling contest of
the season, Kurth begins to condition his team. He switches to
the use of a much heavier lugging sled, so the team will know
how to pull well in competition.
"At a horse pull, the team starts out pulling a stone boat
weighted with 3,000 pounds," he said. "They get three tries to
pull that weight 27 feet six inches, the distance needed to
advance to the next round."
During the next round, more weight is added to the stone boat
and the competition continues under the winning teams are
determined. Kurth said the most one of his teams has pulled was
"Not every horse will make a good pulling horse, maybe one out
of a hundred," he said. "It helps to have a good eye for picking
out the horses to use in a team and it takes a lot of time for
training compared to the time spent in actual competition."
At the present time, Kurth owns 11 horses, nine for pulling and
two for riding. However, he said, he only has time to work with
two pulling horses a year.
"During the winter, I rotate the pulling horses while working in
the woods," he said. "That gives me a good idea of what they can
do. I am planning to train and work with two pulling teams next
Kurth has raised some of his pulling horses and purchased
others. He begins breaking them when they are three years of age
and starts their training two years later.
"I have raised and sold quite a few horses, including several
who are competing in horse pulls in other states," he said.
Kurth has help from his younger brother, Kenneth, in care for,
training and working with the horses. His wife, Mary, often
handles the milking chores so he and his team can compete in
"Our two older children, Sandra and James enjoy helping with the
horses sometimes," he said. "But I think our younger son,
Jordan, may be the next horse puller in the family."
There are about 40 horse pulls in the state during the season,
Kurth said, but he doesn't let his interest in horse pulling
interfere with his farming. The one at the Ogema Christmas Tree
Festival Sept. 25 will be his eighth contest this year.
There will be two classes at the Ogema horse pull; one for teams
weighing 3,200 pounds or less and the other for teams weighing
more. Already, Kurth has heard from horse pullers who will be
coming from Medford, Glidden, Menomonie and Boyd and expects
that when the pull starts at 1 p.m. there will be 8 to 10 teams
will be competing.
Price County Farm Bureau is sponsoring the horse pull, Kurth
said, and there will be trophies and prizes awarded to the
"We will also give an award for horsemanship and one for the
best-dressed team," he said.
To be judged as the best-dressed, the team must present
themselves well as well as demonstrate good behavior and ease in
Article courtesy of The-Bee
- Phillips, Wisconsin