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Tammy Compton

Doug Smith of Richford, NY, is pictured with his pulling team: Tom and Bud, at the 148th Wayne County Fair.

By Tammy Compton
Posted Aug 06, 2010 @ 05:41 PM
Last update Aug 06, 2010 @ 05:56 PM
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.
Ive been driving them every day, about four hours a day. Its 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. Hes just a good horse. He wants to do it, thats the main thing. Theyve got to want to do it to do well, he said.
Theres no money in the pulling part, he said. Its more pleasure and more of a sport than anything, he said.
The money comes in selling a champion puller, Williams said.
Thats what I do. I get them started, and then I try to sell them down the road after Ive had them a year or two. Then Ill 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. Thats 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 pounds.
Williams travels to 25-30 fairs per year to participate in their horse pulling events.
Ive 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 days 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 the competition. 
For Annabelle, its 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 hed 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 five years.
He won this pull, Howard said of the Wayne County Fair. Bruce had pulled 4,250 pounds on the Dynamometer machine.

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