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Horse pull provides big finish for 2011 Muskingum County Fair

ZANESVILLE -- If thoroughbred racing is known as the sport of kings, then horse pulls must be the sport of the working man.

Forget the high-tech photo finishes, fine-boned jockeys in brightly colored silks and roses to blanket the winning horses.

The horse pull sport does offer sweat, clouds of dust and more than 4 tons of weight on a sled pulled by horses with workhorse names such as Davy, Bob, Barney and Jake towering over their overall-clad drivers at 16 to 18 hands at the shoulder.

Teams of horses are either lightweights at a combined weight of 3,300 pounds or lighter or heavyweights at 3,321 and heavier, and teamsters expect them to be able to pull triple their weight or more.

"I don't know how good they're going to do until it's over," said teamster Tom Ferguson, of Urichsville, as he hitched pulling gear to his lightweight team. "They are raised and bred to do this. It's the only thing they do. We don't log with them or farm with them. We just use them for pulling as a hobby. These guys are ready to go. We usually pull at 9 in the morning, but this one doesn't start till 11. They are getting hot."

Ferguson's team weighed in at 3,200 pounds Saturday morning and expect to pull 9,000 pounds by the time the competition ends, Ferguson said.

Bill Vines, of Ravenna, has been pulling competitively for more than 30 years, saying he still is breaking in a new team of Belgian horses, Dan and Jim, and getting to know them.

"It's a very expensive hobby," he said. "I just enjoy horses, and this is a way we can try and make enough to feed them."

Stockton Young, 5, climbed on a bulldozer on the infield as his father and aunt worked with the teams of horses owned by Tate Farms of Shreve.

"I have a pony that can pull named Tiny, but he's at home," Stockton said. "I like when the horses win and when they do a good job."

The sport is struggling to maintain numbers, Tate said.

"People are losing the ability to do it, and there aren't enough young people coming up to take the place of the ones who are getting older."

Narrowing the field at the end, in the lightweight division, the team with Jerry and Becky Riggs, of Cameron, W.Va., emerged as the winners, pulling almost 9,000 pounds. In the heavyweight division, the winners were Ron and Russell Oakleaf, of Tiffin.

Article courtesy of http://www.zanesvilletimesrecorder.com

Pull teams gather Saturday at the Muskingum County Fair Horse and Pony Pull in Zanesville.
Pull teams gather Saturday at the Muskingum County Fair Horse and Pony Pull in Zanesville

 



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