And if you think you’ve experienced competition horse pulling but you weren’t in the grandstands at the Crawford County Fairgrounds Friday afternoon, well, that’s too bad. The folks who were there thought it was pretty spectacular.
“You were treated to the best lightweight pull I’ve seen in this area in forever,” Jim Kennerknecht, chairperson of Department 03: Horse Pulling, told the crowd gathered to witness the fair’s first-ever Laurel Highlands Horse Pulling Association point series sanctioned pull.
These horses were ready to pull. Walked onto the racetrack in front of the grandstands, each team’s excitement level seemed to rise as they approached the official LHHPA dynamometer. Bearing something of a resemblance to a large tow truck, the vehicle allows the load to be precisely increased as the competition continues.
All it takes is the clink of the hook attaching the team to the truck and they’re off.
Because teams received points, they came from Michigan, West Virginia, New York and Ohio as well as Pennsylvania to compete.
In the lightweight class — each team weighs less than 3,300 pounds including leather harnesses and special pulling shoes — first place was captured by Jerry and Becky Riggs from Commerce, W.Va., whose team pulled a record-breaking 3,800 pounds the required 27 feet 6 inches.
Ten started the competition at 3,300 pounds; eight advanced to 3,600 pounds and three made it into the 3,800-pound third round.
“That was an outstanding lightweight pull,” Kennerknecht observed when the West Virginia team went the distance, breaking the 3,600 pound fair record. “That was the best light-weight pull I’ve ever seen.”
In the heavyweight class, Holly Hill Belgians from Spartansburg pulled a hefty 3,900 pounds the required 27.5 feet and then some. Because the Holly Hill Belgians were the only team left competing at the 3,900-pound level, all they really needed to do was hitch up and move it. Instead, they acted like they were taking it for a stroll around the track.
One of the highlights of the event was the performance of horses on display at the fair who were given their first opportunity to attempt to pull the truck. Even without benefit of extensive pulling training or the cleated shoes, they drew admiring applause from the crowd as they put their best effort into moving 3,000 pounds.