NEW BREMEN Draft horses are bred for their ability to perform heavy work. They plow fields, pull loads of logs and perform other difficult tasks around the farm.
Those skills were put to the test Sunday at Trixie-Belle Farm, as horses and owners entertained the crowd in the annual Fall Driving Competition hosted by the North Country Draft Horse Club.
I joined this club 20 years ago or better, said Art Ospelt, Pennellville. At 78, he was the oldest competitor taking the reins.
This is a good club. Weve had a lot of fun with it, Mr. Ospelt said. While he reminisced, the youngest competitor took to the field in the obstacle-course portion of the competition.
Angela Filey, 12, was fresh off a second-place finish in the youth division log pull at the Woodsmens Field Days in Boonville.
She placed fourth in the same event Sunday, as her 14-year-old brother, Zachary, took third.
As third-generation draft horse owners, the Filey family took the rivalry in stride, laughing at the close finishes. Their horses are used daily on Filey Farms in Rome.
In another event, about 10 competitors faced off in a hay bale race in which teams of horses and a driver pull a wagon carrying hay bales and another person.
As the horses weave the wagon through a short course of unloading areas, a pair of bales is unloaded at each drop spot and picked back up on the return.
Sometimes, the race goes smoothly; other times, the teams make mistakes in their haste.
Such was the case Sunday, when Adam Fields, Sackets Harbor, tumbled off the back off the wagon at his last pickup. He was uninjured in the comical fall and the crowd broke out in laughter.
While Clydesdales are likely the most well-known of draft horses, there were none competing in this event, which had Belgians, Percherons and spotted draft horses on the list of competitors.
A 3-month-old Clydesdale was in attendance, however, as the grand prize in the clubs raffle. Claude Jareo, LaFargeville, was the lucky winner.
The North Country Draft Horse Club started in February 1985. President William Scofield said he missed the very first meeting 27 years ago, but joined the next month. He was elected president in July 1986. Ive been here ever since, he said.
The club, which meets monthly, also hosts a Fall Corn Harvest and Fall Plow Day every year, in addition to a Spring Single Draft Horse Pull and a Spring Plow Day.
The club has nearly 100 members, and its not necessary to own a horse to join.
For more information, call Mr. Scofield at 232-4717 or visit the club website at www.northcountrydrafthorseclub.com.