Zac Sloan sits on a sled pulled by two of his horses.
Sloan is a competitor in the little-known sport of horse
pulling. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Pulling for Zac Young team of horses aims to please owner
By: Jenny Jones
Courier Staff Writer
horses’ breath hung in the cool night air as they pulled the
wooden sleigh through the barn.
With huffs, the draft team dragged the sleigh, which was piled
with cinder blocks, over the muddy ground — an exercise the horses
have become accustomed to since Zac Sloan, 21, purchased the young
competition pulling team several months ago.
Every night, Sloan harnesses the horses, hooks them up to the
sleigh and climbs aboard for the ride near his home in Lexington,
Ind. As the horses pull the 1,000 pounds of weight, their muscles
contract and their giant cleated shoes dig into the soil.
“They’re really eager to please,” said Suzy Palmer, who stood
under the spotlights of the barn watching her son direct the
massive horses. “They’re gentle animals.”
The team pulls about three to four miles a night, preparing for
pulling competitions. Sloan has participated in pulling
competitions since he was a boy.
Sloan can’t remember a time when his family didn’t work horses and
compete with them.
“It was something I’ve always done,” he said. “It was what we did
as a family.”
When Sloan was a youngster, he spent many nights in the barn with
his mom, helping her prepare her horses for show.
After dragging over a couple of hay bales to use as steps, Sloan
would grab the back of the saddle while his mother held onto the
front, and together they’d saddle the horses.
“We had a lot of bonding time doing that,” Palmer said. “He was
always here working on horses.”
Sloan still spends almost every evening after work in the barn
with his parents and his horses, but now he slaps the saddles on
with ease and pays for the horses’ expenses himself.
Sloan gives each of his horses about 25 pounds of feed a day and
vaccinates them regularly to keep them healthy for the
competitions, which take place all over the country.
During a horsepulling contest, the teams compete to see which team
can pull the most weight in its class. Winners can take home
hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Although Sloan has won about five competitions with previous
pulling teams, he says one of the best parts of being involved in
pulling is the satisfaction he gets from working young horses and
turning them into competitive teams.
“It’s a challenge,” Sloan said, pointing to his inexperienced
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