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 address to:

Samantha Bolles
9105 Hicks
Quincy, MI  49082

History of the Michigan Dynamometer Association Inc.

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 draft horse.

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 national contest.

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 days-gone-by.

Don Davis

2019 Board of Directors

President: Jerald Keegan – Montgomery, MI – (517) 425-9357
Vice President: Jack VanVoorst – Ceresco, Michigan – (219) 204-2888
Secretary/Treasurer: Samantha Bolles – Quincy, Michigan – (231) 225-1832

Craig Bowers – Jonesville, Michigan – (517) 849-7623
Dave Rossman – Jonesville, Michigan – (517) 202-4804
Melenda Keegan – Montgomery, Michigan – (517) 425-9358
Tom Dutton – Quincy, Michigan – (603) 496-7190
Samantha Bolles – Quincy, Michigan – (231) 225-1832
Lonnie Kanitz – Milan , Michigan – (734) 417-9128

Current Holders of World Records

A. Lightweight team under 3,000 lbs. [3725] 1971 – St. Joseph Fair – Harold Gilbert, Shelbina, MO

B. Lightweight team under 3,200 lbs. [4125] 1990 – Hillsdale County Fair – Benham Brothers, Osgood, IN
Ledyard & Keegan, Camden & Montgomery, MI

C. Heavyweight Team [4650] 2002- Hillsdale County Fair – Boomer Clark, Belfast, NY

Website: https://mgli.org/