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By Brad Monastiere
 

Rain and records both fell at the Hillsdale County Fair Tuesday.

photo:news

Pete Mowry / DAILY NEWS The heavyweight horse pulling team of Jerald Keegan, Reading, and Ken Heightchew, New Castle, Kentucky, work hard to win Tuesday mornings competition at the fairgrounds, and set a new world record.


For the second consecutive year, the fair was host to a new world record, as Reading’s Jerald Keegan helped set a new heavyweight horse pull mark with horses Mike and Roger at the annual competition on the infield of the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds.

The two horses pulled a total of 4,700 pounds, eclipsing last year’s record by 25 pounds. Mike and Roger pulled the weight 35 feet, 10 inches, well past the Michigan Dynamometer Association minimum for a full pull, which is 27–6.

Keegan, 26, said he knew the horses were capable of setting the record because they get frequent and hard workouts all year round.

“I knew they could do it, I just wasn’t sure if they would,” he said. “I’m a logger here in Hillsdale County, and they pull logs all winter long, so they don’t really get a break.

photo:news

Pete Mowry / DAILY NEWS The heavyweight horse pulling team of Jerald Keegan, Reading, and Ken Heightchew, New Castle, Kentucky are presented with the trophy after winning the competition at the fairgrounds on Tuesday night, as well as setting a new world record.


“My wife Melody works them, and when I’m around, they know I mean business.”

Keegan also received a trophy and first–place prize money of $270. He said he plans on treating his family to a nice steak dinner with the cash.

Mike and Roger, who weigh a combined 5,100 pounds, are both seven years old. The two horses hadn’t worked together in a pulling competition be–fore Tuesday, but the two had no problems defeating the other 14 teams present.

Mike and Roger completed successful full pulls on each of the first five weights, starting with 2,900 pounds. The finals matched Keegan’s horses against Butch and Mike, a pair of horses owned by Terry Yoder of Lake Panasoffke, Fla.

Yoder’s horses completed a pull of 24–5 at the 4,700 pound contest, just short of a full pull that would have meant a temporary world record at worst.

After Yoder’s horses finished their pull, a quiet tension settled over the crowd — which numbered well into the hundreds — on this cloudy, cool morning at the fairgrounds.

After Keegan’s horses got hooked up to the dynamometer, Mike and Roger had little trouble digging their hooves into the thick grass, dragging the weight well beyond the minimum distance. Cheers and whistles greeted the team after the world record was set.

The horses were purchased for Keegan by Kenny Heightchew of Newcastle, Ky. Heightchew, a newcomer to the county fair, said the horses’ work ethic was key in picking up the victory.

Nine of the 15 teams were led by people from Hillsdale County. The top area finisher behind Keegan was Litchfield’s Larry Fisher, who’s horses took fifth overall at the event.

Fans lined up early in the morning along the rectangular infield, and eventually filled the left side of the grandstands watching the event that has become a premier one during fair week.

“I like seeing the horse pulls as much as anything at the fair,” said R.J. Smith of Jackson while watching the event. “I used to show horses here through the 4–H. This is my first time back here in 10 years, and I think a rural community like this has a soft spot in its heart for horses.”

Article courtesy of Hillsdale Daily News



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