SKOWHEGAN -- Standing 17 1/2 hands tall, Charles Blanchard's Belgian draft
horses Stubby and Mark look like they might be a couple of those "super-charged"
horses you hear about on the fair circuit.
But they aren't.
"They ain't big; they're just the right size," Blanchard, 65, of Freedom, N.H.,
said Tuesday during the horse-pulling competition at the Skowhegan State Fair.
"They're just tall."
Blanchard and his young partner Josh Battles were competing in the
3,100-pound class, signifying the total combined weight of the horses. The
animals pull a flat skid with 6,200 pounds of weight on it -- the team that
pulls the longest in five minutes wins.
"We always liked Skowhegan," Blanchard said.
Blanchard and Battles earlier in the day had come in first in the 3,000-pound
class. They took first place at the Presque Isle Fair last week and came in
second at international pulling events in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, before that,
said Blanchard's girlfriend, Darlene Tibbetts, who also has been around horse
pulling all of her life.
"It's kind of our family thing," she said. "I've been coming since I was
born; my father was Robert Tibbetts -- he used to pull here."
The key to bringing a winning horse to the fair is hard work, Blanchard said.
A horse might stand up a little taller that the others, but it's muscle tone
that brings home the cash premiums, he said.
"You've got to pull 'em and pull 'em and pull 'em; work 'em and work 'em," he
said. "We started the first of April and everybody else started in June -- so
that makes ours look better. Guaranteed, you pay more for the good ones than you
do the poor ones and you only get back what you give 'em and that's time.
"You got to do it every day to build them muscles; see this is endurance,
actually, time against the clock and you've got to keep going or the clock's
going to run out. You've got to make them muscles."
Blanchard said Stubby and Mark are geldings, 11 and 12 years old, and when
they are not competing on the fair circuit, they pull hay rides, and also wagons
He said all the talk about super-charged horses is just that -- talk, that
doesn't amount to much. A "super-charged" horse is supposed to be one that is
not an ordinary work horse, but one bred to be a winner. Blanchard said hard
work is the only "charge" his horses get.
In the end Tuesday, Blanchard and Battles took second place in the
3,100-pound class. Stubby and Mark pulled the load 462 feet, 9 inches. The
winner was Justin Libby of East Corinth. His Belgians Sam and Mike pulled 500
feet, 1 inch in the allotted 5 minutes, according to pulling superintendent
Randy Hall of Dixfield.
click image to enlarge
Justin Libby, of East Corinth, drives his team of draft horses
in the pulling competition at the Skowhegan State Fair Tuesday.
Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans
Article courtesy of Morning Sentinel