"Gentleman" is the first word mentioned when folks speak
about Walter Putnam. "Oldtimer" is another term that describes Walt and
his association with horsepulling. One spectator mentions having watched
Walter pull horses in the 1960's and he was still pulling well into the 1990's.
Walter was born form the Thumb of Michigan, and a member
of a horse oriented family. His relatives were heavy into race horses.
Walter didn't race. The idea of horse running as fast as they could go,
behind him with their fills pointing towards his back made him nervous.
But he didn't want any horses ahead of him either. Walter was always
Walter was active in draft horse things besides pulling.
He plowed with them and worked them on other horse powered equipment as well.
He would lend his trailer so people could participate in plow days.
Once he borrowed Kevin Langley to drive his pulling team while a broken leg
A few years ago, Walter was honored by the Great Lakes
International Draft Horse Show when it was till held in Detroit. After
riding around the arena on the big show wagon so people could see him, and
applaud his contributions, he climbed back down and joined his pulling team in
the arena. Then he said, "It is nice getting my feet back down here in the
dirt with my team and helpers. That is what is most comfortable for me".
Another time he was too busy to talk with visitors because
he was using his tractor to load the weights on the boat for a local Caro
horsepulling contest. He took his "class" with him wherever he went.
"Gentlemen" are like that. Sometimes Walt might participate in up to 35
different pulling contests in a season but he would have to go out of state to
get this done.
Walt wrapped up his horsepulling career by attending every
contest he could work into his schedule. He would be proud of this day,
even if a bit uncomfortable with the attention...
Photo courtesy of Cecil E. Darnell