|Horse Pulling Online|
by Brandt Ainsworth
Horse pulling got its start when one teamster would challenge
another to a test of strength between their teams. They hooked their horses to a
heavy stoneboat, a log, or anything else that might be handy. The object was and
still is, to see whose team can pull the biggest load. As often as not the
competition was unorganized, took place in a barnyard, and had few spectators,
but was no doubt fun to watch. Such matches were the beginnings of modern horse
Horse pulling today is still all about who has the strongest horse,
but now instead of a match between neighbors after chores, teamsters travel
thousands of miles to compete. Thirty-one of our 50 states have horse pulls.
Some pullers enter dozen of pulls each year, and spectators travel countless
miles to fill the stands. In many rural counties the horse pull is the
cornerstone of the county fair, and big attraction at the state fair.
The pullers and fans often belong to organizations that have as their goal to
preserve and promote this important rural sport. Most such organizations are
statewide, but others are organized by what kind of object is pulled. Michigan,
for instance, has the Michigan Dynamometer Association and the Michigan
Horsepulling Boat Association.
The internet is a good place to find information on horse pulling.
Several sites are loaded with information and each of them can keep you busy for
hours looking at all it has to offer. All pulling sites provide results of
recent contests, pictures of pulls, and the same friendly tone you find at any
you can find everything from a detailed schedule to a description of your
favorite puller. The pulling results are clear to read, even for the novice.
This site lists each weight class separately, the load and distance each team
pulled, the place they finished, often the horses names, and the type of pull
(dynamometer, sled, log, etc.).
If you like to watch horse pulling videos, this site has a section
offering for sale videos of many different pulls. A puller can always benefit by
watching a video to see what he did right and wrong. Fans benefit by reliving a
great pull or seeing one they missed.
If you're like me, you can't see enough pictures from horse pulls,
whether depicting horses digging for all the power they can muster, or teamsters
sharing the tradition. This site offers nearly 100 photos of pulling action, and
25 photos looking back at pulls from days gone by.
My favorite part is the pullers profile section showing pictures and
profiling pullers all around the country. This feature lets you get to know each
puller's background, occupation, favorite pull, and biggest accomplishments. Jay
Kessler lists his biggest accomplishment in horse pulling as being able to stay
married for 22 years while pulling horses.
The Eastern Draft
Horse Association has an informative site where you can find a history of
horse pulling and a list of pulling rules. You can also find histories of the
dynamometer, draft horses in America, and the international pull between Canada
and the United States. This website offers an easy-to-read list of results for
horse pulls, and lists 11 pulling associations and the rules for pulling in each
A fun section of this site is Meet the Puller, where you can learn
about dozens of pullers and find out about their harness preferences, home life,
favorite television show, favorite kind of pull, favorite horse they've owned,
and what got them started pulling horses. Click on the photo section and you
will find photos in 11 categories, both modern and dating back to the 1940s.
Another site is horsepull.com,
where you can get information about a variety of pulling associations and find
record loads in different categories. You just might be surprised to learn that
you know a puller who holds a record. This site lets you brush up on your
pulling knowledge with pages on Horse Pulling 101, pulling with a boat versus a
dynamometer, the rules of pulling, and little known facts about the sport.
Still hungry for horse pulling information? The Front Porch is a
good place to strike up a horse pulling discussion. And don't forget
to check out pulling articles
in Rural Heritage by authors like Cecil E. Darnell, Sam Moore, Sandy
Lepley, myself, and others.
No matter how much information you find about horse pulling, seeing a
pull first hand is always fun and a learning experience for the whole family. A
new season is about to start, so consult the Rural Heritage
Calendar of Events
or the schedule on one of the pulling websites to find pulls near you, then go
see pullers and their equine athletes first hand. Better yet, get involved and
becoming a horse puller yourself.
Brandt Ainsworth takes part in many horse pulls in the western New York
area. He is a frequent contributor to
Heritage. This article appeared in
Evener 2004 edition.