We watched the middle weight horse pull today at the Wisconsin State Fair. Two-horse teams pull a truck loaded with heavy weights. When we left, the weight was 3,250 pounds aiming for 4,000  before the event was over. The horses strain and pull, sometimes it looks like they might buckle.  But it’s what they do. They’ve been practicing all year.

Behind us and to the right was an older guy with one leg of his jeans rolled up to his knee. He wore a sleeveless white t-shirt and had tattoos down the length of the arm I could see. He had blond hair, arranged almost in a page boy, and he was thin and tanned through and through. He looked like a guy I might have seen thirty years ago at a Willie Nelson concert. He held a pack of Newports in his hands like a Bible.

I wondered about him and what brought him to watch the horse pull. He was with a woman holding a single cigarette in her hand like she was waiting for someone to blow the break whistle. She was blond, too, but her other details are lost to me. I figured he was there because of her. But no, maybe he was a horse person. Who could know?

Then I saw the rest of his leg, the steel and hinges of it.

Don’t look at his leg, I said to myself. And then I thought, well, people are looking at my cochlear implant, the receiver over my ear and the magnet on my head. Oh no, I thought, they’re not equivalent. What I lost was tiny and not heroic. He probably was in the war or he was hit by a car or shot by someone in the leg. What he has or doesn’t have, it’s worse. So don’t look. Stop looking.

So then I watched the horses and the teams of men who would bring them around to hitch to the truck that had to be pulled. Sometimes, the horses would bolt before they were hooked to the truck and the men would scramble to stay on their feet as the horses pulled across the arena. Spooked.

Other times the hitch would latch and the horses would pull – 15 feet, 20 feet, 26 feet and 7 inches. When they came around in front of where we were sitting, the horses would have sweat running down their front legs and tiny bubbles of spit in the corners of their mouths. It wasn’t easy pulling such a heavy load. That was the message. It wasn’t easy.



2 Comments on “Pulling

  1. Wonderful post. I like horses, draft animals. I came into the world when some farmers were still using horses. Just in case you don’t know, I’ll share with you some small details that make horse pulling more interesting to watch.

    When a team starts a load one horse often looks like he’s falling down. He’s the guy who breaks the load. The other horse keep it moving while the first one gets his hooves under him. Then they pull together.

    There are left hand horses and right handed horses. What I mean is they work on the right side or the left and they do not like being switched.

    My cousin bought a mule for his son-in-law and they were trying to load him into a horse trailer. He wouldn’t go. Then my cousin remembered his dad telling him about the right handed and left handed, so they tried the other side of the trailer and he went right in.

    My grandfather owned a large farm before the Great Depression. During the summer he sometimes had 18 3-horse teams in the fields at any one time. He always worked three because it was easier on the horses. And because in the middle was where the young ones got put and were dragged along until he got the hang of it.

    True stories, all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! And that’s just what we saw with one horse really looking like he was buckling and the other being ok. Knew there had to be a science to it. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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