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By Paul Costanzo
 

With 5,200 pounds of horse in front of him and a world record weight of 4,700 pounds sitting on the bed of a truck behind him, Chris Hatfield tried to remain calm.

photo:sports

Pete Mowry / DAILY NEWS Horses Mike and Buck, the pulling team owned by Yoder and Hatfield, pull 4,700 pounds a distance of 31 feet 6 inches, setting a new world record on Tuesday morning.


“You don’t need to get nervous — that is no time to get nervous,” Hatfield, a resident of Kentucky, said. “You just hope for the best and hope everything goes well.”

For Hatfield, the world record was just an extra. He and his partner Terry Yoder — formerly from the area, he now lives in Florida — had already wrapped up the top two places in the Michigan Dynamometer Association Hillsdale County Fair National Championship Heavy–weight Horse Pulls.

 

 

So as his two mammoth horses — 12–year–old Belgians Mike and Buck — were hitched to the truck, Hatfield wasted no time in yelling “heeyah!”

Mike and Buck then wasted no time in moving the world record load forward.

photo:sports


When the horses came to a stop the crowd fell silent and turned its attention toward the judge.

The judge paused, glanced down at the tape measure, looked up and — like a ringside announcer calling off the deciding judges score in a World Heavyweight Title fight — exclaimed “31 feet, 4 inches.”

The crowd erupted as the mark was well past the 27–6 needed. The pull topped the previous record of 4,675 pounds that was set earlier this summer at the Monroe County Fair.

“There’s nothing like it,” Hatfield said of the record–breaking pull.

It was a fine ending to a day that featured animals that are truly athletes who were a perfect mixture of beauty and beast — powerful and intimidating, while at the same time majestic and awe–striking — pulling weights that Ford trucks brag about.

“I knew it was going to be close,” Hatfield said. “We hoped that –Mike and Buck– could –break the record– but you never know. They feel bad just like we feel bad some days, they just can’t tell you.”

The pull was still subject to the horses being tested for performance enhancers. Last year’s winning team set a world record, but failed the drug test, giving Yoder and Hatfield the win.

This year, however, nobody could top them as both of their teams breezed through the first five weights without having to hitch up more than once.

The top local finisher was Bill Bump, whose team of Bill and Jim, was the only one to join Yoder and Hatfield’s horses in attempting to pull 4,400 pounds. The Yoder and Hatfield second place team was able to pull 4,400 pounds 19–9, while the Bump team pulled their load 12–11.

While only three advanced that far, the competition was very stiff as eight teams advanced past 3,800 pounds on the day.

“That’s why we come up here,” Yoder said. “These are the best of the best and that’s why we come up here.”

On Monday, Larry Arsenault of Champion had a team break the world record in the Pony Pulling contest.

In Class 902, Arsenault’s team pulled 2,575 pounds 14 feet.

Arsenault also took home first place in the Class 901 Lightweight 53–inch and under division.

The National Champion Heavyweight 49–inch and under class was won by Nathan Cook of Rothbury.

Article courtesy of Hillsdale Daily News Online



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