by Sanne Kure-Jensen
Enthusiastic horse owners and audiences saw powerful horses pulling enormous loads at horse pulling competitions at The Big E. Displaying Herculean strength, horses and their teamsters took turns pulling a stone sled with ever-increasing weights in three classes.
The teams pulled a stone boat or sled weighing about 500 lbs. loaded with additional weights. (The sled weight was not included in the weight pulled.) In the first round, the sled carried 3,000 lbs. with 1,000 lbs. added per round. After a few rounds, 500 lbs. were added per round. Teams had five minutes to make up to three hitches with a measurable forward distance. Their best distance was entered for that round. To advance to the next round, teams had to pull the sled at least 12 feet forward in one continuous motion.
Winners and Premiums
Pulling 11,500 lbs., Wally Stevens and his team from Choplin, CT won the Class A Competition (under 3050 lbs.). Sean Kelly of Milan, NH with ‘Rock’ and ‘Dale,’ won the Class B Competition (3350 lbs.) pulling 13,500 lbs. The Big E’s Class C Horse Pull for horses over 3350 lbs. was won by Durgin and Cole whose team pulled 16,000 lbs.
The 2013 Horse Pulling entrants and winners in Class A (under 3050 lbs.) were:
1. Wally Stevens
2. Brad Hurlbert
3. Wally Stevens
4. Kelly Family
5. Bill Biladeau
6. Tucker Family
The 2013 Horse Pulling entrants and winners in Class B (3350 lbs) were:
1. Sean Kelly
2. Foster Painting and Morse
3. Stevens and Beatty
4. Ed Hills
5. Tucker Family
6. Foster Painting & Morse
7. Eric French, Jr.
8. Chris Perkins
9. O’Shea and Porter
The 2013 Horse Pulling entrants and winners in Class C (over 3350 lbs.) were:
1. Charlie Chickering
2. Grover and McIntyre
3. Charlie Chickering
4. Grover and McIntyre
5. Jim Malloy
Animals were weighed the morning of the competition to determine their class.
Competitors do not put in long hours training their horses to get rich. Some competition premiums barely cover the fuel needed to drive to events. Class B winner, Sean Kelley said he and his team all have day jobs. They train together most mornings and evenings. Kelley has won seven of his last eight pulling competitions. His horses ‘Rock’ and ‘Dale’ just turned eight years old. Kelley said pulling horses do their best work between 8 and 13 years old.
A recent Lancaster, NH event netted the team $1500. The Big E Horse Pull Class A and B Premiums ranged from $275 to $50 for 1st through 10th place. Class C Premiums ranged from $325 to $70 for 1st through 10th place.
The Eastern States Exposition offers a revolving trophy for ‘Champion Free-For-All’ and $100 to the pair of horses that pull the largest load. Rosettes were also awarded. A Best Driver trophy was given out by a vote of spectators and pit crews.
Eastern States Exposition Horse Show
The Big E is also home of the prestigious Eastern States Exposition Horse Show. This show brought in many of the Northeast’s best horses, riders and drivers competing for top equine honors. Three annual shows featured competitions for all size horses from Hackney ponies to Draft horses. Audiences saw hunters and jumpers leap rails, brush piles and stonewalls with precision. The Hunters, Jumpers & Hunt Seat Equitation was held two days before the fair’s opening day. The USHJA Zone 1 Championships were held during the fair’s first weekend. Saddlebreds, Hackneys, Morgans and Friesians competed at the end of the first week.
The annual Draft Horse Show runs the fair’s final weekend. Enthusiastic audiences have packed the Coliseum to see as many as 30 horses competing in various classes: carts, tandems, unicorns, teams, fours and sixes. Audiences saw powerful hitches of Belgians, Clydesdales, Shires and Percherons. The show’s highlight is the prestigious $30,000 Big E Six-Horse Hitch Showdown.
by Sanne Kure-Jensen