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Four-legged tractors in action late August into November.

The reign of the draft horse on the American farm was brought to an end by the tractor in the early part of this century. But work horses are again popular on small farms, and they're also pleasing crowds at exhibition events at state and county fairs. At five area fairs this fall, you can watch these great animals in contests of strength and skill.

A brief history of the big horses

Draft (meaning "pulling") horses are descended from horses that carried armored knights into battle. These taller, heavier, and more muscular horses were later used for agriculture. Today's major draft breeds include Belgian, Percheron, Clydesdale, Shire, and Suffolk.

A draft horse stands about a foot taller than the average riding horse and can weigh twice as much (to 2,500 pounds).

By the 1940s, draft horses had nearly disappeared. Today, there are an estimated 20,000 of them in this country. What saved them? In part, environmentalism- back-to-the-earth movement. And in part, plain economics, which made these horses practical assets to some small farm and logging operations.

Where to see them: fall fairs in three states

Among fair events, three main kinds of competition show you the skills draft horses use at work: pulling, driving, and

log-skidding contests.

In pulling contests, ranked by horse team weight from lightweight (2,000 pounds) to heavyweight (3,300 pounds or more), a two-horse team drags a sled carrying I 00- pound weights at least 20 feet. The team that pulls the most weight wins.

In driving competitions, teams are classed according to the driver (ladies, juniors, and so on), the vehicle (cart or wagon), or the number of horses in the hitch ("four-up" meaning four horses). Often, drivers and wagons are decorated in an early American theme. Some driving events include obstacle courses: you'll be amazed to see what intricate patterns these equine behemoths can thread.

In log skidding, each driver must ride two logs and guide his team through a twisting course. The fastest team with fewest faults for hitting course markers wins.

Some fairs also include halter events, in which riderless horses are paraded and judged for conformation.

CALIFORNIA

Grass Valley. September 15, 16, and 17. Draft Horse Classic and Harvest Festival, at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, includes driving contests Friday night at 6:30 and obstacle course driving and log skidding Saturday at 11, with heavyweight pulling at 6:30. Sunday at 3 is the grand finale with driving contests, log skidding, and a costume event. Fair hours are 10 to 11; entry is $5, $3 for ages under 12.

Sacramento. August 18 through September 4. State fair is at Cal Expo Fairgrounds (Business 1-80 and Expo Boulevard). No draft competitions are scheduled, but draft horses will be on view daily in exhibit barns and as part of the horse cavalcade in the arena at 6:30 Pm. daily. Fair hours are

10 to 10. Entry is $5, $3 for ages 5 through 12.

San Francisco. October 27 through November 5. The Grand National, at the Cow Palace, has no contests, but you can see four draft breeds each day at a breezeway exhibit. Weekends, weather permitting, draft horse-drawn wagons take you from parking to the gate. Hours are 7 A.M. tO 10 Pm. Entry is $5 to $15.

COLORADO

Pueblo. August 26 and 27. Two days of draft horse events are part of the state fair (August 25 through September 4). The fairgrounds are off 1-25. Some 80 horses compete in morning halter classes at 8 both

days. On Saturday at 8, you'll see log skidding. Saturday and Sunday at I are pulling contests. Saturday at 7 Pm., there's an obstacle course. Driving classes begin at 1 Sunday. Horses will be on display both days. Fair hours are 8 A.M. to midnight. Entry is $5, $2.50 for ages 6 through 11.

UTAH

Salt Lake City. September 14. Draft horse events are part of the state fair, September 7 through 17, at State Fairpark, N. Temple and 10th W. You can see draft horses in barn exhibits. Halter, driving, and saddle events are at 4, a pulling contest at 7:30. Hours are 10:30 A.M. to 11 Pm. Entry is $4, $2 for ages 6 through 16.
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Title Annotation:draft horses events
Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Directory
Date:Sep 1, 1989
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