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Good 'ol country entertainment


Daily Commercial Staff Writer

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The ranchers, the farmers, the good-ol’ boys and the old-time country folk got real quiet when the large horses — yoked together in pairs — were brought into the center of the muddy arena on Terry Yoder’s Lake Panasoffkee ranch for the magnificent pull. Not a single “yeehaw” could be heard.

An overcast, drizzling sky kept cowboy hats, ball hats, overalls and the brawny Belgium horses damp.

“Most of these horse are psyched up and ready to go,” said Fred Burbee, a handler from Durgan and Crowell ranch in New London, N.H.

The Southern Draft Horse Association sponsored its fourth annual horse pull in Central Florida Saturday with contestants and their horses coming from states as far away as Maine and New Hampshire. The association has seven other events planned in the next three weeks

. “We’ve just got it started here in Florida,” said association president Mike Nevers. “We’ve got some of the best horses in Florida.” Some of the horses competing were worth more than $25,000 each.

Two horses have to pull sleds loaded with cement blocks at least 20 feet to advance to the next round. Blocks are added after each round.

The contest has two categories: lightweights (horses weighing less than 1,700 pounds each) and heavy weight. Nevers said some of the horses that competed in the event weighed nearly 2,600 pounds and were more than five feet tall measuring to the backs.

“It’s like a weightlifter,” Nevers said. “This is kind of a family. We just want to see who has the strongest horses — like weightlifters or boxers.”

Horse-pull contests are commonplace in the fertile communities of Midwestern and Northeastern farmland. “This is country entertainment,” said Rachel Rood, of Nicholson, Pa. “We’ve been involved in this since we were kids.”

“I’ve been watching this all my life,” said Gordon Bird, of Litchfield, Ky.

“It’s like a tractor pull with horses,” said Glendora Yoder, the association’s secretary.

The winner in the light-weight division was Terry Eggleston, of Hastings, Mich. His horses pulled 8,750 pounds for 14 feet and six inches.

Durgin and Crowell’s horses won the heavy-weight division by pulling 10,500 pounds (more than five tons) for six feet and six inches.

Winners get a $500 price and a trophy. The best drivers receive $15.


Article compliments of "The Daily Commercial"

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