Clare Stahl was named to the Michigan Horsepuller's Hall of
Fame in 2006, one of the three honored in this second year of the Hall's
Clare Stahl covered the entire draft horse industry.
He received his early horse driving experience by driving a team on a riding
cultivator. The Stahl family was made up of serious farm folks. It
was later that "pulling competition" began taking center stage on the Stahl
Once horsepulling got started with the Stahl's, nearly
everything else took a back seat. Clare enjoyed telling the story about
his wife's chickens and how proud she was of them. Then one day she sold
every chicken on the place. It was shortly after that chicken sale that
Clare saw a horse that he just "had to have".
It took every bit of his persuasive abilities to get that
chicken money from her so he could get that horse he wanted. He had to
make her a lot of promises to get that particular horse and she enjoyed
reminding him of it for years even after the horse had left their farm.
Clare Stahl was intense in every horse related thing he
did. He was intense when he farmed with horses, when he pulled in
competition and when he progressed into other aspects within the horsepulling
arena. After maturing out of pulling competitions Clare jumped right into
working with the associations. He worked to always improve the quality of
the contests and to get the prize money to a level that brought in the best
teams and spectators.
As he worked to improve sportsmanship, prize money and fair
play he was also working with the younger association members to be alert for
new contests that could be added to their schedule. He kept growing in his
professionalism within the association and the industry until the end of his
As Clare kept things growing and improving the number and
quality of events he moved into the judging and managing the different contests
that captured his interest. One long running example of his dedication and
his philosophy of horsepulling was focused on Ionia. The Ionia Free Fair
has a long history of producing well run and quality competition. Clare
worked for years to fertilize and cultivate that rich soil along the river
through the Ionia Fairgrounds.
His dedication to every facet of working with people
through the communications that are encouraged through draft horse involvement
credited by some to be one of the reasons that so many young people are grabbing
those pulling lines and keeping this sport leading the way. He honors
every level of his life and the learning that permitted him to contribute at
every level as he grew into it.
Photo courtesy of Cecil E. Darnell