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Kurth coordinates festival horse pull
Ogema dairy farmer inherits his interest from father, grandfather
Cathy Peterson
Last Updated: Thursday, September 23rd, 2004 09:15:29 AM


Staff photo
Ogema resident and horse pull enthusiast Dean Kurth and children, James, Sandra and Jordan, are pictured with his current Belgian horse pulling team.


Dean Kurth, who has been involved in horse pulling contests for 15 years, is coordinating the horse pull to be held Sept. 25 during the Ogema Christmas Tree Festival. He also plans to enter his team in the pull competition.
"I guess horse pulling is in my blood," he said. "My dad, Marvin, participated in horse pulls for many years and, at one time, my grandfather, Frank Kurth, was considered one of the best horse pullers in the state."
Most of the horses used for pulling are Belgians, Kurth said, although occasionally, a team of Percherons, another breed of work horse, will also be entered in a pull. He noted that a Belgian horse usually has a reddish colored hide and can weigh up to 2,700 pounds.
"To have a good seasoned team, they need to do about five miles of pulling each day," he said. "The work sled they pull will weigh about 1,000 pounds."
About six to eight weeks prior to the first pulling contest of the season, Kurth begins to condition his team. He switches to the use of a much heavier lugging sled, so the team will know how to pull well in competition.
"At a horse pull, the team starts out pulling a stone boat weighted with 3,000 pounds," he said. "They get three tries to pull that weight 27 feet six inches, the distance needed to advance to the next round."
During the next round, more weight is added to the stone boat and the competition continues under the winning teams are determined. Kurth said the most one of his teams has pulled was 12,000 pounds.
"Not every horse will make a good pulling horse, maybe one out of a hundred," he said. "It helps to have a good eye for picking out the horses to use in a team and it takes a lot of time for training compared to the time spent in actual competition."
At the present time, Kurth owns 11 horses, nine for pulling and two for riding. However, he said, he only has time to work with two pulling horses a year.
"During the winter, I rotate the pulling horses while working in the woods," he said. "That gives me a good idea of what they can do. I am planning to train and work with two pulling teams next year."
Kurth has raised some of his pulling horses and purchased others. He begins breaking them when they are three years of age and starts their training two years later.
"I have raised and sold quite a few horses, including several who are competing in horse pulls in other states," he said.
Kurth has help from his younger brother, Kenneth, in care for, training and working with the horses. His wife, Mary, often handles the milking chores so he and his team can compete in horse pulls.
"Our two older children, Sandra and James enjoy helping with the horses sometimes," he said. "But I think our younger son, Jordan, may be the next horse puller in the family."
There are about 40 horse pulls in the state during the season, Kurth said, but he doesn't let his interest in horse pulling interfere with his farming. The one at the Ogema Christmas Tree Festival Sept. 25 will be his eighth contest this year.
There will be two classes at the Ogema horse pull; one for teams weighing 3,200 pounds or less and the other for teams weighing more. Already, Kurth has heard from horse pullers who will be coming from Medford, Glidden, Menomonie and Boyd and expects that when the pull starts at 1 p.m. there will be 8 to 10 teams will be competing.
Price County Farm Bureau is sponsoring the horse pull, Kurth said, and there will be trophies and prizes awarded to the pulling winners.
"We will also give an award for horsemanship and one for the best-dressed team," he said.
To be judged as the best-dressed, the team must present themselves well as well as demonstrate good behavior and ease in handling.

Article courtesy of The-Bee - Phillips, Wisconsin

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