Horse Pulling

Horse Pulling

What is horse pulling?  The sport of horse pulling originated in the early 1900's when farmers farmed with horses daily on their farms.  Farmer's would challenge one another to see whose horse could pull the most weight.  Can't you just visualize a farmer telling his neighbor, "I bet my horse can pull more than your can".  Then to prove it, the neighbor would take him up on that bet and soon there would be some competition between several farmers.
Horse pulling has evolved into an organized sport with a team of equine athletes.  The work that goes into them to get ready for a competition is endless.  There are different weight classes and strict rules to follow to avoid animal cruelty and protect the safety of the horses during competition.  The best horses in competition are worked every day to keep their muscles and tendons in great shape to pull heavy loads to prevent them from being hurt during the competition.  Each competition has its own rules and regulations, which are strictly enforced.
The competition involves harnessed horses, usually a team, to pull a stone-boat or weighted sled for a short distance.  Each team entered in the competition is hitched to the machine.  If the team can not pull the weight, they are removed from the competition and all teams that successfully pulled the weight advance to the next round.  The competition continues until one team of horses remains.  The diet of pulling horses in quite important.  Along with this work, the ration of feeding is quite important.  A mixture of oats, vitamins and minerals are fed for stamina. High quality hay with alfalfa for protein is important.  The majority of pulling horses have clipped manes and most horse pullers seem to like clipped legs, ears and hair around the muzzle for cleanliness.  The fitting of the collar, harness and bridle take quite some time.  Proper fitting collars and pads are very important so the shoulders don't become sore.  Adjustments to the collar, harness and bridle may need to be changed periodically to ensure proper fit.
The eveners are another scientific feat.  There are holes in the doubletree on each horse's side to be able to set a stouter horse in to pull a bit more than his partner and you can change it on every load if you need to.  The goal is for the "team" to work together, pull swiftly, straight, etc. and not all teams pull the same due to strength, training and experience.  There are also swinging hooks or stiff hooks and without trying a little of everything, the teamster really does not know what his team will pull best with.  Trial and error are the best resources.  And when they get it all figured out, it's time to go pulling! 

Rockbridge Regional Fair Draft Horse Pull ~ July 19, 2013

Salem County Fair, New Jersey ~ August 9, 2012

Rockbridge County Fair, Virginia ~ July 18, 2012

Mid-Atlantic Power Festival ~ June 14, 2012