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Horse puller on top of their game

Staff Writer



For the fourth year in a row, The Stillwater Connection took top honors on Saturday in the lightweight division of the draft horse pull.

Taking the lead at 10,200 pounds with a pull of 19 feet, 1 inch, the three-person, two-horse team claimed the $500 first-place prize for teams weighing less than 3,220 pounds. Though enough to bring home the win this year, the team has pulled as much 10,500 for 24 feet and nine inches in the past.

"Hard work, and working them anywhere we can work 'em," said Tom Ferguson, who partnered with Randy and Lynn Arnold, in response to being asked how the team has remained on top for so long. "We only work three to four hours a day. These horses got a lot of heart."

It was Allender and DeNoon of Cambridge, Ohio, pulling first in the heavyweight division. A pull of 10,200 pounds for 27 feet earned the team $500 and a first-place ranking.

No matter what the division, representatives of The Buckeye Horse Pulling Associate of Ohio agreed that only top-notch talent showed up for the event. And as teams successfully pulled themselves through each stage of the event, those much anticipated words were sounded, "And then we'll need more weight!"

"You're witnessing some of the best pulling horses in the U.S," said Fred Cannon, superintendent of the horse pull and announcer for the event. "I hope you appreciate the time they took getting ready."

Two-by-two horses pulled up to their loads. Seemingly unconcerned with anything else, team after team eagerly hitched on and moved out. In more than one case, only inches separated one team from another.

Excited by the sheer determination of the animals and perhaps the expert handling of them by their trainers, the crowd often forgot how important a silent audience is to competitors of the sport, sometimes struggling to contain their enthusiasm.

"I'm a country boy at heart and I always try to make it out to the pull," said Dale Smith of Wooster. "There's even a painted horse competing here. It's really unusual to see one in a competition like this. It's unusual to see one of their breed at all."

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