When the folks at Guinness agree to consider a world record-setting attempt by anybody, whether it is for the world's largest frying pan or the longest tunnel traversed by a skateboarding dog or any of the other thousands of world records, they require the candidate to jump through a lot of hoops before assigning them the record.
In the case of the mule plowing attempt, the organizers were required to keep fastidious notes. Each mule was examined by a veterinarian at check-in, and the teams were assigned entry numbers. They were filmed individually as they entered the field, and each teamster announced their name and home address for the cameras.
Once the teams were all assembled at one side of the field and ready, they began plowing. As the last plow was lowered and turning over soil, a flat was raised indicating all plows were in the ground and all teams were plowing simultaneously. A loud air horn sounded to indicate the start of the 60-second timing. At the end of a minute, the air horn sounded again to signal the completion of the attempt.
Observers wearing orange vests and holding orange flags were stationed throughout the field to ensure all teams were moving with their plows in the ground. After the one minute was over, the observers conferred to confirm what the teams were all plowing simultaneously.
The entire event was filmed from a variety of vantage points to document its authenticity, including being shot by three drone cameras covering the entire field at one time.
Even though the organizers were confident they got it right on the first pass, they decided to do it one more time, just to be sure. The contingent of 95 mules were driven back to the other end of the field ,where they were started again for a second pass. For those couple of minutes of plowing, a lot of time had been spent preparing for the event, making the site accessible and convenient for the participants and spectators. Many of the mules and their teamsters had come from considerable distance and arrived a day or two before the event.
The Middle Tennessee Mule Skinners club has a long history of hosting events for their members and others to come together to enjoy their working mules. They host two wagon trains, a mule show and several field days throughout the year.
The MTMS club members first got the idea to go after the record when they learned about the Albert City (Iowa) Threshermen and Collector's Show try at beating the record for the most horses plowing at one time in one place. While the participants and their 120 horses certainly did break the previous record of 84 horses set in the U.K., their successful bid was eventually denied official status by the people at Guinness due to a lack of video footage documenting the attempt. A surprisingly fast-forming and unexpected thunderstorm with dangerous lightning had stymied the organizers' efforts to launch drones and film from a tall cherry-picker platform.