It’s easy to imagine two farmers with the harvest ended and not much to do until the warmth of spring arrives having a conversation of this nature. It probably happened a lot in the “olden days” of the early 1900s. The good news is it still happens today, only in public events and you can watch and cheer for your favorite set of horses.
The Southern Draft Horse Association is sponsoring a National Draft Pulling Championship featuring more than 45 teams of sturdy, beautiful horses. Make your plans to take a lawn chair or have a golf-cart tailgate party at The Villages Polo Field Sunday, Feb. 17, beginning at noon.
The sport of horse pulling is simply that—a team of horses pulling heavy loads. The best horses in this competitive sport are worked daily to prepare for the contests. Some may think it’s not good for these horses to be pulling such heavy loads, but the truth is, draft horses were bred to handle weight and pulling. Unlike a race horse, they are trained to pull for short distances, and it usually doesn’t even affect how they feel or raise their heart rate.
Like any good athlete, what these horses eat during training is also important. They get oats for energy along with vitamins and minerals for stamina and strength. Add to that a combination of hay and alfalfa, and they get a good feeding of protein twice a day.
The fitting of the collar, harness, and bridle must be done properly so the shoulders of the big horses do not get sore. Like humans, each horse is different physically, the collars around their necks are designed specifically for them. The hames, two curved pieces of iron or wood, are attached to the collar, and are also scientifically designed, and the belly band must not be too tight or the horse may not perform as well.
Horses aren’t used as much for the hard work around the farm these days, but that doesn’t mean these beautiful animals can’t show their stuff—and they may win a few prizes along the way for their proud owner.
Southern Draft Horse Association Horse Pull
National Draft Pulling Championship
Sunday, Feb. 17
The Villages Polo Field
703 N. Buena Vista Blvd.
Tickets: $10 at the gate rain or shine
Children under 12 are free
Gates open at 11am