It was a day for working horses, and the people that love them, as a Chore Team Challenge was held at Tail Winds Arena.
The Saskatchewan Clydesdale Association event brought teams of working horses together from as far away as Alberta to compete at a range of challenges, explained Twylla Newton, owner of the arena just south of Yorkton.
“It’s skills that are used by a chore team,” she explained.
As examples teams had to walk over slightly raised rails which were to mimic walking over small logs if working in the bush, back a wagon up to a ‘loading dock’ and ‘parallel parking’ the wagon.
Eighteen teamsters including eleven in the open category, five in the amateur category and two in the junior category competed for over $2000 in cash and prizes.
Brett Fulford was among the competitors, bringing his team from Red Deer, AB., “because it’s a great event,” adding it was also to support Newton who he had met at the Calgary Stampede.
Fulford said it is not winning that attracts his interest most.
“It’s just working with the horses, and the good people you meet,” he said.
Fulford is one of the teamsters who still uses his team to farm, at least a little bit, as he carries out farming operations on 15 acres each year. He admitted it is largely a hobby, but it also shows what horses did in helping develop the farm sector on the Prairies.
As for the competition Saturday, Fulford said he was going into it with a simple plan, let the horses do what they already know how to do.
“And relax, [as a teamster], because the horses build off of you,” he said. “If you go in there and you’re stressed it goes down the lines, [reins], and they, [the horses], know.”
Fulford then admitted it was more theory than practice in his case.
“I’ve never done this before, but if you have a good team, you’re chances are good,” he said.
While the teamsters wanted to win Saturday, Newton said the event also had an educational aspect.
“Basically we’re promoting to the public to keep the draft horse industry alive,” she said.
While noting most farm operations are now carried out by tractors, Newton said there are still farmers who use horses to do chores such as rolling out round bales to feed cattle.
The Yorkton event was something new, said Newton, but it is something which can grow.
“We’re hoping this develops,” she said, adding chore horse competitions are beginning to gain popularity with similar events at Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, and the Grain Millers Harvest Showdown in Yorkton.
The competitions do vary in exactly what challenges the teams face.
“This is quite a detailed pattern. We’re upping the game a little bit,” said Newton. “A few more skills are being used.”
Judge for the day, Jim Lane from Loan Oak Percherons, “was kept on his toes by the talented teamsters maneuvering their way through a very challenging course,” offered Newton.
The skills competition was followed by a very exciting event of team barrel racing. For this race a teamster hooked his team on to the skid, then as fast as they could go did the clover leaf pattern through the barrels while being timed.
After the fast pace of the barrels, it was time for the challenging Slow Race! The slow race is where you ground drive your team, against other teamsters, from point A to point B. Last team across the line without having a horse stop won.
Placing in the skills competition sponsored by Logan Stevens Equipment, Yorkton Hyundai and Whitewood Dodge were as follows:
Chore Challenge Open Category
1st – Tim Edwards
2nd - Lloyd Smith
3rd – Michelle Newton
4th – Brett Fulford
Chore Challenge Amateur Category
1st – Kimberly Fargo-Buchberger
2nd – Shanna Lippert
3rd – Amanda Van De Kerchove
4th – Nancy Holden
5th – Joy Gray
Chore Challenge Junior Category
1st – Jordan Telfer
2nd – Alex Waschenfelder
Barrel Racing and Slow Race prizes donated by Yorkton Coop Argo:
1st - Twylla Newton
2nd – Brett Fulford
3rd – Keith Neumier
1st – Lloyd Smith
2nd – Tim Edwards
3rd – Cam Anderson