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News Photo: Jerry Riggs leads his pair of draft horses during Sunday’s draft horse pull. Bill Cole of Mount Vernon took home the title. (Photo by Niles Mahan)

MV’s Cole takes top draft horse pull honors

By Geoff Cowles, News Sports Writer
Monday, July 24, 2006

MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon resident Bill Cole took honors as the top driver in the draft horse pull Sunday at the 2006 Knox County Fair.

Cole’s team of Belgian horses, named Charlie and Skippy, managed to pull a weight of 8,500 pounds for the required minimum of 25 feet. It was in the next round, when the weight was upped to 9,250 pounds, that Cole’s team fell short, but the Belgians still managed to drag the heavy sled 22 feet.

“I am really happy,” said Cole. “I don’t know what to say. We put a lot of time and effort into this. A lot of work, but a lot of time.”

Cole’s team placed sixth among the heavyweights, although his horses were not equipped with pulling shoes. His horses pull in the Farm League and they use flat, uncleated shoes.

“They slip a lot with the flat shoes, compared to the pulling shoes, but they did real well for us. The footing is not too bad here. It really surprised me that they did as good as they did,” said Cole.

Mike Rine of Mount Vernon fell only 6 inches short at the 10,000-pound level. His horses, Tom (age 6) and Cody (age 7), finished second to eventual winner Bill Vines of Ravenna. Rine’s team dragged the sled 24-foot-3 at 10,000 pounds — a mere 6 inches shy of the minimum.

“It was kind of tough,” said Rine, “but this is only the second time that they have pulled together. But we have a pretty good team to work with.”

To find a good working pair of horses is not easy.

“It takes a lot of looking,” said Rine. “It takes a lot of time to go through different horses to find two that match and work together.”

Once they are trained, however, they know what they are doing.

“Pulling is what they are here to do. They know exactly what is going on,” said Rine, adding that once the horses get going, the role of the driver is to “just hang on, basically.”

“The footing was real good,” said Rine, who has been doing this all of his 33 years. “Our family has been doing this for four generations.”

Dave Keys of Mount Vernon, his horses using flat shoes, finished third. Keys’ horses, Matt and Dick, were driven by Bill Stover and posted the best finish for a farm league team.

Mike Cole of Fredericktown drove his team up to the 9,250-pound level but was only able to drag the sled a few feet. Dick Rine of Howard was eliminated at the 8,500-pound level. With no cleats, the best his horses, Mark and Doc, could pull was 20-foot-1.

Article courtesy of Mount Vernon News

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