Michigan Dynamometer Association
Become a member of the Michigan Dynamometer
Association Inc. and keep abreast of all the pulls! Send $30 with your name and
8487 Davis Highway
Lansing, MI 48917-9546
History of the Michigan Dynamometer
The Michigan Dynamometer Association Inc. traces its
origin back to the development of the dynamometer by Iowa State College. Many
agricultural schools bought the Iowa machines for draft horse research. Michigan
Agricultural College (now M.S.U.) was one of the such schools. Here in Michigan,
Harry F. Moxley, a farm boy from Kansas, persuaded the Michigan Agricultural
College Board in 1926 to buy one dynamometer machine for research.
The following year a second machine was authorized,
and so Michigan became actively involved in testing horses for better
understanding of what a good draft horse should look like for farm purposes.
Harry, an energetic State Extension Agent in charge of promoting better farming
practices throughout Michigan, spearheaded the scientific studies.
Another man important to the research was Ralph W.
Tenny. Ralph directed the actual running of the dynamometer machines at fairs
and horse shows throughout Michigan. Using the Dynamometers, the two researchers
divided the horses into two classes - lightweights under 3,000 per team, and
heavyweights, those over 3,000 (a good average horse in those days weighed close
to 1,500 pounds). Each horse was measured for length, girth, and height with no
horse being allowed in the lightweight class over 16 hands (64") high.
Throughout the 20's and early 30's, Harry Moxley used the results of the horse
pulls to educate the breeders as to the type and confirmation that made a good
With the enthusiasm of pulling contests drawing many
spectators the men "pulling horses" decided to form a state-wide organization of
"horse pullers". On November 1, 1940, in Plainwell, Michigan 186 people came
together to form what is known today as the Michigan Dynamometer Association.
The officers for that first year were Dan Arnold, of Plainwell, President; Clare
McLean, of St. Louis, Vice President; and Lloyd Bacon of Mulliken, as third
officer of a three-director leadership team.
The second meeting was held on February 4, 1941, to
establish bylaws. The newly founded organization worked in cooperation with
Harry Moxley to develop more and better horse pulling exhibitions.
One of the first character directors, Lloyd Bacon,
recalls some of the early years as being exciting moments of pulling history. In
1943 an Iowan farmer b the name of Lester Smith came to Michigan with his 5,600
pound team. They set many new records during their stay in Michigan, but just
having that big a team in 1943 was a sight in itself.
On another occasion, in 1948, a special national
pulling contest was held after the fair season in Hillsdale, Michigan. Fifty-two
lightweights and 44 heavyweights tried their strength for the best pull. The
next year, 68 lightweights and 44 heavies pulled their hearts out at, again, a
Teams from al over the Midwest, New England and
Canada have at one time or another come to Michigan to try their luck at
outdoing the Michigan pullers. Today the Dynamometer Association Inc. has a
membership of 262 with a growing enthusiasm of a new and younger breed of men
willing to carry on the pride of the draft horse and his competitive heritage of
Current Holders of World Records
A. Lightweight team under 3,000 lbs. 
1971 - St. Joseph Fair - Harold Gilbert, Shelbina, MO
B. Lightweight team under 3,200 lbs. 
1990 - Hillsdale County Fair - Benham Brothers, Osgood, IN
Ledyard & Keegan, Camden & Montgomery, MI
C. Heavyweight Team 
2002- Hillsdale County Fair - Boomer Clark, Belfast, NY