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Friday, 24 July 2015 11:54

Rock County Fair 2015: Huge horses pull their weight … and more

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JANESVILLE -- They’re big. A pair of them can weight more than 3,200 pounds. They have names like Jerry and Tom, Rex and Duke, Mike and Bud, Red and Ed and that’s just the horses, usually of the Belgian breed. They’re built for work -- big shoulders, huge feet and a drive to succeed. A full grown Belgian can weigh a ton.

The drivers come with their own handles: Maynard Sidie from Brodhead, Tom Ward from Waterloo, Glen and son Mike Larsen from Denmark and Ken Markham from Elkhorn.

The Wisconsin Horse Pullers Association will bring them all together for a horse pull Sunday, Aug. 2 during the fair. The pull begins at 10 a.m. with the 3,200 lb. and under category pulling first. Then the heavyweights pull.

(Rock County Fair 2015 preview HERE)

A team of two horses must pull the load 27.5 feet. If the team gets the load on the boat or sled across that distance on the first try, they’re good to move on. If they falter, they may stay hitched and try again. Unhitch, they forfeit the second try but can come back at the end of the round for a third and final try.

They have three minutes once the judge blows his whistle.

Jim Lowrey of Cambridge pulls his own team of horses and announces many of the local horse pulls in this area. He said spectators of the show should look for the team that works together.

"Typically, you have a lead horse -- the one that’s out front -- and the horse that brings the load -- the one pulling the most weight -- that has to be a good horse,"he said.

The drivers hold the reins, but they depend on the two hookers to get the load hitched. The horses learn to listen for that sound of the metal hitting metal.

"Watch their ears,"advises Lowery, "they’re listening to their drivers and that sound, then there’s no stopping them."

Each team, depending on the condition and friction afforded by the track, will pull their own weight and then some. Last year at state fair, the 3200 lb. winning team pulled 3,500 pounds; the heavyweights pulled 4,200 pounds.

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