The Anderson family has made their dad’s obsession for promoting horse pulling their own and have many trophies to show for their efforts.
The family, who has a farm on Highway 162, helped the cause of promoting horse
pulling by winning two awards at the Wisconsin State Fair on Aug. 13 in West
Ashley, 16, brought home the second-place title and Dad, Jim Anderson, placed
Ashley, a junior at Bangor High School, drove her Belgian horse team of Queen,
7, and Bud, 16, who belongs to friend and fellow horse puller Jeff Krueger.
Her team of horses, entered in the lightweight division, won by pulling 3,425
pounds on a truck 22 feet 2 inches.
Jim’s team pulled 3,300 pounds 19 feet 3 inches with his Belgian team of Mark,
7, and Cap, 10. The lightweight division is comprised of teams of horses that
way between 3,000 to 3,200 pounds.
The Wisconsin State Fair awards come on the heels of Jim winning first place
in the lightweight division and capturing the POH 2007 National Championship
award in Deerfield, Ill., on June 30. There, his team pulled 3,550 pounds 21
feet 6 inches. That is the equivalent of 46,000 pounds on a rolling road,
although in horse pulling the horses start from a stationary position.
“It was quite an honor winning the POH,” Jim said. “Some enter contests every
year their whole lives and never win.”
He also won first place in the lightweight division July 21 in Chaseburg with
Mark and Cap pulling 7,500 pounds 27 feet 6 inches.
Although Ashley has never won first place in a competition, she has won the
horsemanship award. That happened in Chaseburg July 21.
“I brought a horse to the pull contest, and, while we were there, the horse
became sick, so I pulled him from the competition. I won the horsemanship
award for paying attention to the needs of the horse. That was more of an
honor than winning the pull,” she said.
Jim’s own father started the family horse pulling tradition, and Jim has been
pulling horses since he was 15 years old. Because of a farm accident when he
was 9 years old, Jim lost his right arm. He drives the horses by wrapping the
lines around his back.
“He can do more with one arm that many men can do with two,” Ashley said
Ashley, third in point standings in the Wisconsin Horse Pulling Association,
is following her dad’s winning example and likes competing in the pulls.
Jim’s wife Julie, and their two sons, Adam and Austin, also contribute to the
Adam, 17, a senior at BHS, can usually be found hooking the horses up to the
load, one of the more risky parts of the competition; he could lose a finger
or a hand if he’s not careful. Furthermore, Adam is getting a reputation as
being skilled in breaking the horses.
“People come asking for Adam to break their horses,” Jim said.
Austin, 12, a sixth-grader at Bangor Middle School, is an all- around helper.
He takes care of the horses, feeds them, calms them down, walks them and does
other chores. Jim said he’s really too young to pull — children should be at
least 14 years old — but Austin knows his horses and the business.
And Julie has been given the title of “overseer,” or the boss, although Julie
jokes that title is questionable at times.
The family lives on their 180-acre farm in Bangor raising steers as well as
corn, soybean and alfalfa. They have 10 draft horses, five ponies and three
saddle horses in addition to the Belgians. They break and keep the horses
conditioned by having them haul manure and plowing some 15 to 20 acres. They
use six head of horses on a plow.
“We work them to keep them conditioned and so they’re used to the work,” Jim
said. “We make sure they get used to noises so they don’t get spooked. It’s
nice to have them to work on the farm in the winter. You don’t have to worry
about the tractor starting.”
The Andersons breed the horses as well as buy. “We breed for conformation and
an eagerness to pull,” said Ashley.
Jim agrees, saying, “They’ve got to have the spirit as well as the body.” The
Belgians are the main breed used in horse pulling, although he said Percherons
are also used.
While the horse-pulling season is over in September, the Andersons are looking
forward to the end of the year banquet in Denver in November.