Gentle giants graced the infield Friday.
Beautiful, muscle-bound, Belgian and Percheron pulling teams were there to
give it all they had at the Wayne County Fairgrounds with the start of the
148th Wayne County Fair.
Bob Williams of DeRuyter, N.Y., near Syracuse, trailored his team 130
miles for the friendly competition.
He and his honey-colored Belgians, Pat and Fritz, had been faithfully
training since April to prepare for the pulling event.
“I’ve been driving them every day, about four hours a day. It’s like an
athlete; it takes a lot of work to get them in shape,” he said.
Williams bought 6-year-old Pat a year ago at a sale in Indiana, while
7-year-old Fritz has been with him for two years. “He’s just a good horse.
He wants to do it, that’s the main thing. They’ve got to want to do it to
do well,” he said.
“There’s no money in the pulling part,” he said. “It’s more pleasure and
more of a sport than anything,” he said.
The money comes in selling a champion puller, Williams said.
“That’s what I do. I get them started, and then I try to sell them down
the road after I’ve had them a year or two. Then I’ll just replace them
and start all over again,” he said.
The cost of the golden Belgians varies, he said, anywhere from $2,500 up
to $35,000. “That’s what you work for. You hope maybe you can get one that
you can sell to these guys that have got a win,” Williams said.
As to how much the teams pull, Williams says the heavy weights pull about
4,250 pounds on the machine, while the light-weights pull 3,600-3,800
Williams travels to 25-30 fairs per year to participate in their horse
“I’ve been doing it for 30 years,” he said.
Seats set up next to the track, Howard and Annabelle Smith of McDonough,
N.Y., had settled in to videotape the day’s event.
Having participated in horse pulling for 53-years, 80-year-old Howard
retired from the event three years ago, but is still very interested in
For Annabelle, it’s about the love of horses, competition and the
fellowship of other horse pullers.
“The horses are just like athletes, my husband used to work them anywhere
from four to six hours a day,” she said.
“My great grandfather had them and my grandfather had them,” he said of
the Belgian work horse. Howard said he’d been around them since he was 5.
“I started pulling after the Service,” he said, having served as an Army
Medic from 1951-53.
He was 22 when he started pulling.
Gail was a favorite Belgian, he said. An active puller, he kept her for 15
years and bred her. He said it was hard when he finally did sell her.
An all-time favorite was Bruce, a 2,540 pound chestnut Belgian he had for
“He won this pull,” Howard said of the Wayne County Fair. Bruce had pulled
4,250 pounds on the Dynamometer machine.
Wayne County, Pa. —