The big horses were a big attraction at the EquiFest of Kansas in Salina.
Drafts horses of several breeds from throughout the Midwest and beyond were hitched in teams for three fast action competitions.
By definition, draft horses are large, heavy breeds of horses characterized by tall stature, about 16-hands, or 64-inches, more than five-feet. They have heavy muscular build, large body size and often weigh more than 1,500-pounds.
Through the years, draft horses have commonly been referred to as work horse because that’s what they do best “work” pulling farm equipment. However, they can also be used for riding, jumping and as driving horses hitched to vehicles.
Certainly, the draft horses proved their ability as work horses in three levels of farm competition at EquiFest. There were gambler’s choice obstacle races, the cultivator challenge and feed team races.
While there are a number of draft breeds and crosses of various breeds Percheron teams dominated EquiFest competitions. Originating in western France, Percherons are usually gray or black, well-muscled, known for intelligence and willingness to work.
Greg Kearns, Franktown, Colorado, was the biggest winner of the competitions claiming two event wins and one second place with his Percherons.
Tristan Musa, St. George, handled the lines on Percheron teams to place fourth in one event, fifth in another and also collected two sixth place monies.
In the obstacle race, teamsters guided their big horses through a preset course of going forward, turning and backing. They could maneuver the course from different directions to their satisfaction for improved performance. There were penalties for going off-course or hitting an obstacle with fastest time the winner.
Matt Clover, Virginia City, Montana, was champion in the gambler’s choice obstacle race with his Percheron team. Second through sixth were Kearns; Tony Garrett, Douds, Iowa, Percheron; Musa; Josh Winkler, Corning, Iowa, Percheron; and Musa.
Payback for placings first through sixth respectively in each division was $237.60, $202.40, $149.60, $114.40, $105.60, and $70.40
In the cultivator race, plastic water bottles were set in a row like a cornfield with teams hitched to semblance of a cultivator. Driven down the row, there was a penalty for each bottle knocked over with faster time again the winner.
Kearns was champion in the cultivator challenge with his Percheron team. Ranking second through sixth in order: Cameron Turnbull, St. George, Percheron; Clay Sharp, Stilwell, Belgium; Garrett; Brian High, Krum, Texas, Percheron; and Mike Luckel, Lamars, Iowa, Shire.
In the feed team races, teamsters guided their big horses while “swampers” did the hard work handling the hay bales. It was another event win for Kearns who along with his swamper received championship buckles sponsored by the Delphos Co-op.
Second through sixth: Greg Lammers, Lamars Iowa, Percheron; Roger O’Neill, Junction City, Percheron; Samantha Kearns, Franklin, Colorado, spotted draft team; Musa; and Musa.