Horse and mule teams competed at the Red Willow County Fair | TheFencePost.com

Horse and mule teams competed at the Red Willow County Fair

There were 14 teams of draft horses and mules gathered to match horses and driving skills at the annual Draft Horse Competition on July 23 at the Red Willow County Fair.

The event was held in the spacious Kiplinger Indoor Arena in McCook, Neb., and with the hot afternoon sun, the spectators and horses were thankful to be inside.

The competition consisted of three events.

The crowd enjoyed watching the heavy horses on the hot afternoon. Bob Haag announced and helped produce the event and Darrel Eberspacher from Seward, Neb., was the judge for the three races.

The fair started the event more than 20 years ago, and gives gas money to everyone who brings a team and pays prize money to the top teams. Teams came from Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas with most major breeds represented, including Belgians, Shires, Clydesdales and Percherons. There also were three teams of mules.

In the feed team race, two teams ran at a time, each with a driver and a swamper — or helper — to load and unload 12 bales of straw onto drag sleds pulled by the horses. The bales were in three piles and, once loaded, the teams drove around a barrel and unloaded the bales in the same order.

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Lynn Myers of Maxwell, Neb., driving his team of Belgian geldings had the fastest time to take first. He was followed by Tyrel Licking of Thedford, Neb., and Cody Wolf of Cozad, Neb. The two tied for second driving Shire geldings and Belgian horses, respectively.

Some of the obstacles included a bridge made of plywood and a tarp.

The fastest time was clocked by P.J. Jacobson of Cozad, Neb. Licking took another second place finish with Richard Armstead of Cozad, Neb., driving a team of horses from the Triangle Ranch in Maxwell, Neb.

The final event was a farm team driving class. Twelve teams pulled wagons, carts and a manure spreader around the arena. The judge looked for strong team-work, how well the horses matched and how well they were handled. Wolf won the class, followed by Licking and Lynn Myers.

"People come not for the money. They enjoy the competition and meeting people." said Kenneth Kircher, event organizer and longtime Red Willow County fair board member. ❖

— Nelson-Licking is a freelance writer from the Nebraska Sandhills who uses her agricultural background to cover articles of interest to the agricultural community.

Upcoming events

Some of the horsemen will attend the draft horse competition on Jul 29 in Kearney, Neb., and July 30 in Eustis, Neb.

Farm team events also are held at the Nebraska State Fair. The fair runs from Aug. 25-Sept. 4 in Grand Island, Neb.