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2005 Inductee

Ward O'Boyle

Ward O’Boyle began pulling horses in 1944.  For those who do not remember that particular year, America was in the middle of World War II, and was wading out of the deep waters of a severe economic depression.  The nation was dotted with family farms that worked together to feed the world.

Ward O’Boyle was just a kid (he is 81 now) when he began pulling.  He remembers his first contest.  He drove a little team of black mares that belonged to his dad. “They didn’t pull much,” he recalls.  Not only did they enter the contest, he also drove the horses to Ithaca, from North County Line Rd before the contest and then home again after.

While that first pull wasn’t a barn burner, it did get something started inside him that still glows today.  Ward comments, “There is just something about horse pulling that gets to you…” Ward also remembers his second horse pulling contest which was in Winn.  He drove a big pair of roans to win $25 at that one, that just enough to pay the hospital bill for the birth of his eldest daughter who was born during the contest.

Over the years, Ward has been involved in a lot of different aspects of horsepulling.  Many folks know him as a cattle man because of the many herds he has raised over the years, but always behind those cattle was his love of draft horses.  He has pulled both light weights and heavy weight horses.  He does have a soft spot for especially big horses.  They just seem to get his attention.

Some old-timers will remember when the Great Lakes International originally started in Detroit.  Ward was one of the organizers and was on the board of directors for a time.  He was also a supporter and superintendent of the Alma horse pulling contest when it originally got started.  The last time he pulled was at Greenville a year ago.

Ward and his horses were always ready to pull at contest time.  He always went that extra step to be certain that he and his horses and crew of assistants looked their best.  Many have commented on the effort expended to present a well groomed and positive image for horsepulling.

Ward was nominated for the Michigan Draft Horse Pulling Hall of Fame by the Michigan Horsepulling Boat Association.


Click on photos to enlarge

Photos courtesy of Cecil E. Darnell

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