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Working Horse Field Day

Annual event demonstrates teams of horses and their drivers working together

On May 28 the second annual Working Horse Field Day will be held at Dale and Joanne Janzen’s farm near Dalmeny, Sask. Teams of horses and their drivers will take to the field to demonstrate plowing, take part in bale sled races, chore team competitions and much more.

“If the horses are doing work you want done, it’s a working horse, whether they’re 30-inch miniatures or 2,500-pound Belgians or Clydesdales,” said Mel Henry, one of the event organizers.

Mel and his wife Gay and a number of other enthusiasts had attended similar field days in Bjorkdale, Rama, and Borden, Saskatchewan that are sanctioned by the Saskatchewan Working Teamsters Association (SWTA). The SWTA is noted for “promoting the practical use of draft animals for pleasure and profit.”

Organizers felt a Working Horse Field Day in the Saskatoon area would be well received. “The last 15 to 20 years have seen quite a resurgence in interest in the use of animal power, whether it’s for entertainment or for practical purposes,” said Mel.

Mel and a group of volunteers met last year to discuss details. “Word went out and people offered to bring equipment and to help in many ways. It was a community effort — the whole area got involved and things soon fell into place,” said Gay. The date was set for May 30, 2015.

“We rented a tent and arranged for a concession truck to provide food. Gay put together a 50-50 draw and a silent auction with items donated by people in the area,” said Mel.

Last year 18 teams and their drivers came from surrounding areas as well as locations farther away like Humboldt, Preeceville and Rama to participate in a variety of activities for the one-day event.

“We provided offsite parking — cars were led to the parking lot by riders on horseback and then taken to the site by a horse-drawn wagon,” said Gay.

The morning began with a horse-drawn plowing competition using a Sulky plow, and harrow and discer demonstrations. “Niall Campbell from Bjorkdale and I put on a demonstration with a walking plow. Rae Ottmann from Martensville brought his cultivator and a team and demonstrated with that,” said Mel.

The afternoon’s activities included a farm chore team competition that requires horse and owner to pull a large tractor tire around a four-pylon obstacle course. “From there you had to hook onto a wagon that was located in a specific marked spot. Then there was another obstacle course to go through. When you brought the wagon back, you had to bring the back wheels into the exact spot it was first parked. This takes skill and training on the part of the horse and driver,” said Mel.

The bale sled race was another event with two teams per heat. “You hook your team to a sled, go around an obstacle, stop and load two bales; go to the next stop, load two more bales, then come back and unload the two bales at a specific spot, drive ahead and unload two more. It’s a timed event and you have to make sure the bales don’t fall off, or you lose points. Horse and driver have to work together,” Mel said.

This year organizers are planning on adding a water barrel race. A barrel on a flat stoneboat is tied down and taken by a team around a specified stop-and-go course. The winner is the team with the most water left in their barrel.

The event drew about 300 visitors last year. “The oldest person in attendance was Mr. Verdun Duterte from Cudworth — he was 99 years old,” said Mel.

“The day brings back a lot of memories for people,” said Gay. “From what we learned last year, we hope this year will be even better.”

There will be four Working Horse Field Days this year in Saskatchewan communities: May 14 and 15 — Rama; May 28 — Dalmeny; June 4 — Saskatoon Livestock Sales in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Pleasure Driving Association will have a Chore Team Competition; June 18 and 19 — Bjorkdale. On September 26, there will be a threshing demonstration at Borden.

For more information about the Dalmeny event, phone Mel Henry at (306) 221-0972 or Ken Crush at 306-229-4823. To learn more about the Saskatchewan Working Teamsters Association, visit swta.ca.

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