Sunday, September 12, 2010

95/365 Horses at Old Fashioned Days

Would a festival called "Old Fashioned Days" be complete if it didn't include horses? Not in my book!

On Labor Day weekend, Sunday night's festivities always feature a horse pull, which has been preceded in recent years by a horse-riding demonstration. Chase has ridden in the demonstration a couple times, but this year, some other riders took a turn.

The photo above, taken during the demonstration, didn't capture a dramatic action sequence, but rather another side of horseback riding that I always enjoy seeing: a relationship between a rider and his or her horse.

If you've never been to a horse pull, it's really an interesting competition that requires a lot of practice and training. Two draft horses are harnessed together and work as a team to pull a sled carrying tons of weight. Literally tons. The team that won this year's event pulled 10,500 pounds of weight. Isn't that incredible?

The horses are "driven" by one person walking behind them, usually the owner, who holds the reins and is the only person allowed to speak to the horses and encourage them during the pull. Two other people walk with him and are responsible for hooking the horses up to the weighted sled. The horses have loads of adrenaline before they pull, so they're ready to dig in as soon as they get lined up. It's very common for them to miss the hookup the first time in their excitement. In the photo below, the guy in the red shirt has just connected the horses to the sled and is jumping out of the way as they start pulling.
As we watched this year's pull, Mom and I commented on the fact that this definitely seems to be an older-man's sport. A couple drivers/owners were in their 40s or 50s, but they were the youngest of the group. One driver was in his 80s.
I usually only make it to this one horse pull each year, but I like having it be part of my Labor Day weekend's activities!

Camera: Canon 40D with 70-300mm IS lens, 1/400s and 1/200s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.


  1. I love that first picture of John and Dusty. You can just feel their connection with his hand on Dusty's neck.