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Beauties, beasts open fair
Published Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Describing these horses as “big” would be a disservice. These steeds are giants.

G.J. McCarthy photo
Koshkonong resident Jack Howell holds the reins to his Belgian-Percheron team as Blaze, left, and Barney move into position for the draft horse pull contest yesterday at the Boone County Fair. Participants from around Missouri and as far away as Mississippi came to take part in the contest, where horses take turns pulling a sled weighted with cinder blocks.

Dwarfing their human counterpart by a considerable measure, Merrel and Barney, two auburn Belgian horses owned by Martha Ames of Huntsville, quietly waited yesterday afternoon at the edge of the arena at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

This was the pair’s second appearance since last year in the Boone County Fair’s farm-team horse pull for unshod horses.

The rules of the horse pull are simple. Each team is hitched to a sled weighted with gray bricks. Their goal is to pull the sled 15 feet over the track’s chocolate-colored dirt. The team pulling the most weight the farthest wins.

For the first couple of rounds, the horses apparently perform the task effortlessly. But as the time goes on and more and more bricks are added to the load, the team’s steps are slower, and their job substantially harder.

Today’s events

● 6 p.m., pony pull, arena

● 6 p.m., junior market lamb show, show palace

● 6 p.m., pedal pull, fairground

● 7 p.m., go-kart races, grandstands, $5, children 6 and under free

● 8 p.m., talent show preliminary round, talent show tent

● 8:30 – 10 p.m., music by Rock Paper Scissors, entertainment tent

Last year, Ames said the team did “fair” in the competition. But they won this year’s contest, lugging 11,500 pounds.

She planned to reward them with something they’re used to. “More work,” she said.

Later, in the draft-horse pull for shod animals, Barney and Blaze, owned by Jack Howell of the Oregon County town of Koshkonong, won the title by hauling 12,750 pounds.

“I work them a little a bit,” Howell said. “They’re kind of special.”

Spectator Everett Sapp, 58, of Ashland said horse-team fans are enthusiastic.

“Especially on that last pull,” Sapp said. “You’re down to those last three teams, and they’re giving it everything they got. It’s just like that final basket at the NBA game. You bet they get into it.”

Article courtesy of the Columbia Daily Tribune

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