Horse Pulling Competitions
Tuesday and Wednesday in the Pulling Ring –
On the North Side of the Fair near the Horse Barns
Horse Pulling at the Champlain Valley Fair has been a popular event for the past 90 years. Teams from Vermont , New York , and other New England states Compete in six different weight classes to see who has the strongest pair of Equine Athletes , and win the Blue Ribbon!
Horse pulling is a draft horse competition where horses in harness, usually one or two animals, pull a stone-boat or weighted sled and the winner is the team or animal that can pull the most weight for a short distance.
The sport of horse pulling originated when horses were still used for daily farm work. Farmers would challenge one another to see whose horse or team could pull the most weight. Since then, horse pulling has evolved into an organized sport with teams of equine athletes. Horses that are used for horse pulling are generally not used for work on the farm. Instead, they are worked regularly to keep their muscles and tendons strong and limber to prevent them from being hurt during competitions.
There are different weight classes and strict rules to avoid animal cruelty. The Belgian horse is the breed most frequently seen, but other draft breeds are also used. There are also competitions for ponies, where they pull significant weight relative to their size, but usually for shorter distances than full-sized horses.
Horse Pulling Contest Schedule
- 10:30 am. – 3300 lbs., 20’ pull, No Touch
- 1:30 am.– Open Distance Approx. 2 lbs rock per lb of Horse
- 5:30 pm. – 3100 lbs., 12’ pull
- 10:30 am. – 3200 lbs., 12’ pull
- 1:30 pm. – 3400 lbs, 15’ pull
- 5:30 pm. – Free-For-All, Open Class – 12’ pull
Premiums for All Classes
- All horses to compete in contest other than Free-For-All teams, shall be weighed in before the time that the first class of the day is to start. All teams to be weighed on the day that they pull. In case of postponement the same hours of weighing shall prevail. Horses must have halters on while on scale. All horses will be weighed in the presence of a delegate appointed by the fair, or person who is conducting the contest. The scale shall be balanced with a man standing on same, this man will hold all horses when possible. The man holding horses shall be appointed by the delegate if he is unable to do this himself. The weighing certificate must be signed by the delegate.
- Switching horses: Once a team has been weighed-in, there will be no switching of horses.
- Wednesday’s weigh in is valid for both days of the pull.
- Starting load: Maximum load of 4,000 lbs. for all weight classes except one horse hitch and 5,000 lbs. for Free-For-All classes. Added loads in each class at the discretion of the judges depending on type of pit. At no time after weight has been increased, may it be decreased.
- Pulling positions to be determined by the drawing of numbers just before starting of each class.
- All teamsters to compete in a contest shall have their teams ready at the published time. All classes will close at the completion of the first hitch in each class.
- Time limit: There shall be a time limit of five minutes for all three hitches. The time will be kept by the announcer or appointed time-keeper.
- Heading: There will be no heading of horses whatsoever. Teams to be driven by one teamster only.
- Use of reins as a whip: The light use of reins on entry to the pit and while team is making its draw, on the hind-quarters only, may be permitted. The use of reins after the boat has stopped or any place on the grounds is prohibited.
- What constitutes a hitch: One inch or more.
- Breakdown: An actual separation, breaking or bending of equipment shall constitute a breakdown. Chains, straps or eveners not properly secured are not considered a breakdown. In event teamster and/or owner wish credit for the distance boat moved before breakage, it will constitute a hitch.
- Over the rail: If a horse’s foot strikes dirt outside the rail it constitutes a hitch with no credit for the distance pulled. Teams must remain within the rails while hitched to the boat.
- Any team deliberately driven over the rail will be disqualified from the contest.
Unhitching after each hitch: Each team shall be disconnected from the boat and will leave the pit before entering for the next hitch.
Measuring: Starting point of boat shall be properly marked to indicate same starting point for all loads. The distance of each pull will be measured from the center of the boat to the most recent pin. All teams will be allowed three hitches to qualify the load.
The boat shall be returned to the starting pin after each hitch.
The boat shall be returned to the starting pin to comply with the following:(a) In no case may a pull begin from a point 72 inches or more from the starting pin.(b) A horse steps over the rail.(c) A pull is disqualified for any rule violation.
The boat shall be returned to the most recent pin (not necessarily the starting pin) following a breakdown. It shall be the duty of the judges, prior to the start of the program, to determine if Rule 15 and/or Rules 16 and 17 will apply. Rule 15 only will apply on a plank pit.
In case of ties for prize-winning placing, one hitch to be taken at the end of the heat in pulling order. In event one team chooses not to hitch again, they will automatically take the lower placing OR, owners will equally divide the premiums involved and toss for their ribbons. This at the discretion of teamsters before class starts.
Changing teamsters: No teamster may be changed after pulling the first load in any case or class except in emergency. Then only when permitted by the judges, with the consent of a majority of the other teamsters in the class.
The Exposition reserves the right to make any test deemed necessary to determine if any team is under the influence of drugs or stimulants. Please see special information for horse and pony pullers on page 12.
Appearance: All participants will be properly dressed.
Drinking: Any participant under the influence of alcohol will be disqualified from the contest. The drinking of intoxicating beverages in and around the ring is prohibited.
Authorized persons in the ring: The pit personnel and the owners, or his agent only.
Interference of Evener Men: No assistance other than hitching.
- Changing of Classes: Classes shall be as publicized only.
Any situations that may arise and are not covered by these rules, the decision will be left to the discretion of the judges.
Any variation of these rules shall be in the spirit of aforesaid rules and at the discretion of the judges. The decision of a majority of the judges concerning any matter arising in connection with the draw shall be final.
Horses or drivers may be disqualified at any time by the judges, either for violation of one or more of the condition of the draw or because the contesting team’s condition is such as to render it cruel or inadvisable to permit the horses to proceed further.
Sawdust will be available for bedding. Hay and grain will be available on the grounds and must be paid for by the exhibitor.