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Work horses show their personalities in front of large crowds

TURTLE CREEK - Darrell Geldart Sr. has been working with horses for nearly a half-century so he knows a show-off when he sees one.

 
Nine NB horse teams have qualified for Maritime horse pulling championships Aug. 23 in Fredericton.  Darryl Geldart puts Rip and Pete through a workout in Turtle Creek yesterday.

"They like to perform and when you get a big crowd, they're a lot like you and me," Geldart explained.

"They enjoy it. There's one of the old Belgians that when I tell him to go, his eyes light up like a Christmas tree. He likes to show everyone how strong he is and what he can pull."

Geldart Sr. is helping prepare his son's medium-sized horses, from Turtle Creek, for the Maritime Horse Pulling Championships, scheduled for Aug. 23 at the Coliseum on the Fredericton Exhibition grounds.

Nine New Brunswick teams advanced to the Maritime championships based on their outstanding performances at the Westmorland Agricultural Fair Aug. 1 in Petitcodiac. In Fredericton, they will face provincial champions from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island for Maritime titles.

Jeremy Mitton, of Steeves Mountain, has a heavy team of seven-year-old Belgians and they are well-prepared for the Maritime championships.

"I've been working with them since they were colts and they're naturals," Mitton said. "They're work horses, bred for working the farms and hauling heavy loads. It's in their blood and they enjoy it.

"My team (Mike and Pat) works well together. They work and exercise together and they realize what they can accomplish by working together."

Other New Brunswickers who have teams that have qualified for the Maritime championships are: Corey Steeves of Turtle Creek, Corey Galbraith of Hoyt, Claude Thorne of Havelock, Peter Steeves of Turtle Creek, Doug Raymond of Sussex and Roland Cormier of Tracadie-Sheila.

Teams are classified into three divisions -- light (2,900 pounds and less), medium (2,900-3,300) and heavy (3,300 and heavier).

All classes start by pulling 3,000 pound weights and more is added as the rounds go by until teams are eliminated. The largest teams are expected to haul more than 8,500 pounds a total of 15 feet.

Darrell Geldart Sr., who is also president of the New Brunswick Horse Pulling Association and has competed in countless events throughout eastern Canada and the United States, said most of the horses work farms.

"For me, I enjoy every minute of it because I love the horses and I enjoy meeting the people at the competitions," he said. "No matter what side of the border you are from, people are the same. They enjoy good, clean fun and they like to see the animals show off."

Preparations for a summer of competition begins in April.

"The horses are no different than people," he said. "I give them a blood test in April to see what they are deficient in and I work with the vet to get the right vitamins or supplements they need to replenish fluids, minerals or whatever they need.

"They're just like us. They need help from the doctor to be fully healthy."

Geldart puts the horses on a slow, steady pace so they can build up their stamina and strength in time for competition.

"Everything can be right, but it still comes down to the mood they are on that specific day," he said. "Some days are good, some are better. All we can do is prepare them and make them comfortable."

Mitton works with his horses about an hour a day, sometimes in an open field with a disc and harrow or sometimes in the woods hauling lumber.

"They thrive on the work," Mitton said. "After driving a truck all day, I can't think of anything better than coming back to (Spruce Hollow Farm) and being with the horses. I enjoy it and I can tell they like being around me, too."

Article courtesy of  timestranscript.canadaeast.com


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