Harry Beeman left us two decades ago in 1988.
Those who pulled horses against him still remember the intensity he displayed
toward anything horsepulling. While he enjoyed every ribbon and trophy he ever
received, he was always most concerned about that next one he wanted to win.
Perhaps some activities do not place the same value on ribbons and trophies that
keep horsepullers out there working, keeping their horses conditioned and
Harry got interested in horsepulling while he
helped his uncle (Red Beeman?) during his teen years. By the time he reached 18
he had hooked enough eveners, brushed enough horses, hauled enough manure and
handled enough hay so that he wanted to get his hands on those lines. Once he
felt those horses on the end of those lines he never looked back. Mostly Harry
pulled lightweight horses, but he wasn’t opposed to heavies if the right horses
made themselves available. He would also pull on the stone boat or the
dynamometer and especially logs.
Harry was especially good when it came to starting
a young horse. He would work with a horse for a month or so and then anyone
could work with the animal. One observer noted, “If you want to see what a
horseman Harry was, just watch his sons Roger and Charlie, they are about as
good (maybe better?) as their old man.”
Evart has been open to Michigan Horses only
because it is a State pull. One year Harry was there with Bill & Zip and he
couldn’t pull them because of the qualifications. After the pull was over, Harry
went out and hooked on the boat and hauled it the length of the grandstand.
While he couldn’t participate in the official pull, the fair board gave him a
check anyway for putting on such a show for the full grandstand crowd.
Old Bill was pulled by several different people
and always was always interesting to watch. When Harry was pulling him with Zip,
they went through a ritual. Eventually Bill was sold to a guy in Maine. There is
a plaque where old Bill is buried that says, “The greatest horse that ever came
People watching Harry Beeman pull Bill & Zip
sometimes found it difficult to believe even when they saw it happening. Harry
didn’t care how difficult a horse was to handle if he was stout. Bill was stout.
Harry would drive the team to the boat, hook them on, then Bill would flip his
ears and when he was ready Harry would start them. Harry always approached
pulling with the idea that when he went to a pull and dropped the tailgate that
he was going to win.
For those who thought Harry was only interested in
horses and lumbering, they need only to remember that he also fathered 10
children, five girls and five boys. Sons Charlie and Roger are active members of
the horsepulling circuit today. Those 10 children produced 18 grandchildren, 20
great grandchildren, and a whole audience of relatives ready to watch or
participate in a horsepulling contest.
When Marjorie remembers Harry getting up in the
morning, he was off to the barn where he spent his time with his horses. He
seemed most comfortable there. He would get them ready to head for the woods
where he also enjoyed logging. Maybe it was because he was doing the work with
his wonderful horses. How many horses did he have during his lifetime? No one
knows, but it was a lot of them. Horses just seemed to do what they were
supposed to do when Harry was around them. Harry was a man who was comfortable
wherever he happened to be. He would sometimes play the role of the old time
horse jockey when it came to trading, making deals and going on to the next
adventure. He was never held back from a deal by the truth and sometimes what
Harry envisioned as the truth wasn’t exactly as others saw it. He was colorful,
interesting, and left a lot of memories in the horse barns and pulling arenas of
It would be interesting to see a show of hands
from this audience of those related to Harry, especially everyone who remembers
seeing him pull horses all those years ago.