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Horse pulling as a family pastime
By: Amber Gieseke July 15, 2009
Horse pulling is something the Huset family of Chetek has been doing for many years. Doug, the father, is pictured pulling while sons Gus (left) and Brian (right) walk along the team.

Although most people don't realize it, there are horse pulls every weekend of the summer in some part of the state, thanks to the Wisconsin Horse Pullers Association. Of those who get involved with the sport, many are related.

The Huset family of Chetek is one of those involved in pulling, which is a draft horse competition where horses in harness, pull a stone-boat or weighted sled and the winner is the team or animal that can pull the most weight for a short distance.

Doug, the father, started pulling when he was 35. His family had always had horses while growing up and he would go with his dad to watch horse pulls. He enjoyed watching and started going to pulls with Charles Schaaf Sr., as well.

Huset took a break from pulling while sons Gus and Brian kept him busy with school activities, but once the boys were done with school, he went back to pulling and got them involved in the sport as well.

"I always went [to pulls] with Schaaf Sr. and my dad, and when I graduated from college in 2003, I really started pulling," said Brian.

Gus also went along, mainly to help get the horses harnessed and ready to pull, he said.

"I pulled once last year and then got hooked into it," he added. "This year I've already pulled a few times."

Even if they aren't pulling a team, they are involved through setup, judging or being evener men, who are in charge of attaching the horses to the weighted sled.

"Having to get everything set up and ready for a pull takes quite a crew," said Doug. "We help with the Chetek and New Auburn pulls and wherever else we can."

Help is a big part of the horse pulling family.

No matter who is pulling, if someone notices something is wrong, they will point it out so the puller can fix it and become better. It's a competitive sport, but everyone works together, said Doug.

That includes training. The Husets train together, helping each other and making sure each horse is performing to the best of their ability.

They work their horses six days a week. They own a 1,500-pound sled they have the horses pull around a circle track for three or four miles. They also have a lugging sled that weighs 4-5,000 pounds that they have the horses pull 40 feet twice a week.

It is a time-consuming activity, but the Husets believe it is worth it.

"The rush you get from competing is worth the work," pointed out Brian. "You also get to bond with the horses, which is a main part of training. You have to learn everything about the team in order to pull well."

Doug enjoys working with others and meeting new people, as well.

Gus recalled the first contest his team won. "They do most of the work," he said of the horses. "We just keep them in line. What you put into it is what you'll get out of it. If you don't work a team, they'll get weak and won't be able to win."

But besides the rush of competing and knowing they put in the work and knowledge to train a winning team, the Husets enjoy being with their family.

"I knew I would eventually pull," said Brian. "I get to hang out with my dad and other relatives. It's quite an entourage-a big family affair."

"I get to see most of my family, especially when the pulls are at fairs," added Gus.

The Husets agreed that horse pulling creates a bond between them. They may not always agree, but it is something they enjoy doing and they can do it together.

Article courtesy of The Chetek Alert

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