Draft Horse Pull: Tonnes Of Excitement

There s nothing quite as exciting in the world of spectator sports as watching fine athletes display all the brawn and devotion to their training in performance competitions. And so it is that the Draft Horse Pull is back by popular demand to the 2011 Farmfair.

I always had a liking for the draft horses, says Clarence Paly, president of the Northlands Draft Horse Pull Committee and judge of the competition. When I was a kid, I used to just wait for those teams of horses to come into my yard. That was the highlight of my life then, and I still love them now.

The Draft Horse Pull this year being held on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m. at Northland s Edmonton EXPO Centre in Hall D and featuring some 20 teams is an event with a huge draw. Preceded by the Draft Horse Pull sponsorship auction the day before, the competition itself generates a tonne of excitement & several tonnes, in fact.

The contest is measured by who pulls the most weight over their team s weight known in pull circles as pounds over inches. In order to have a complete pull, teams have to pull the sled 14 feet, explains Kevin Danyluck, a pulling teamster and member of the Draft Horse Pull committee.

Between each pull, another 500 pounds is added to the sled. Although competing teams are divvied up into classes lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight it s not a foregone conclusion that heavyweight competitors pull the most weight, relative to their size. It s a matter of toughness, says Clarence. Not necessarily the heaviest horse can pull the most, it s the team who s the toughest and in the best of shape.

The overall winner of the competition is the team who has pulled the most weight over their body size. By the end of the contest, teams are dragging some 10,000 pounds across dry dirt. The competition gets quite intense & it s a very exciting show, says Clarence.

And it s a show that takes a training regimen of brute discipline. Some people think these horses are ordinary draft horses just coming into town hooking onto a load and seeing if they can pull it, says Kevin. But these horses want to pull! They are trained to pull, are very good at pulling, and are in top notch shape to do so. Not one horse in the pulling teams has been sitting in the pasture for the last six months to come into the competition for kicks to see what they can pull. These competing horses are fed the best diet, the best vitamins, and are given the best care.

These horses are true, 100 per cent athletes. They re not your average horse.

The Draft Horse Pull hearkens back to an earlier time when heavy horses were working staples on family farms. And, though the viewing audience has in the past drawn an older crowd many who remember firsthand the days of working farm horses this trend is beginning to shift.

We re starting to see a renewing interest from the younger people, says Clarence.

We ve got 35 year old guys with pulling teams. They like the direction back to horse power … it s the way things began and possibly the way things will end one day.

The Draft Horse Pull operates under a very strict procedure of rules.

They have to go gently. It s a dead pull; there s no jerking the skid loose. There s no slapping the horses, no rippling the reins, no mistreatment of the animals in any way. It s all voice command … the animals do what they want to do, what they re encouraged to do, and they seem very happy doing that.

For more information about the Draft Horse Pull, visit www.farmfair.ca, click on Programs and Schedule, Equine Events and Northlands Draft Horse Pull. .

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Some people think these horses are ordinary draft horses just coming into town hooking onto a load and seeing if they can pull it. But these horses want to pull!

Kevin Danyluck

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