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For the love of working with horses

Chore horses compete at Harvest Showdown
YORKTON - While the tractor has been around for more than a century, there are still those who use horses for chores around the farm – hauling in wood, feeding bales to cattle and similar work. 

But why? 

“Just a love for the horses I’ve always had,” said Wayne Nagy shortly after putting his team of Bob and Dan through the course set up at the Newton Landscaping Chore Team Competition at the Grain Millers Harvest Showdown Thursday. 

“For us it’s enjoyable,” noted teamster Kristina Just after her run with Duke and Andy through the course in Yorkton. “I don’t think anyone here would say they don’t enjoy working with their teams.” 

For Just her team is also how she ‘gets away’ from stress when needed. She said she can just harness the team and go for a drive on the trails to relax and enjoy her horses and the solitude. 

And, the horses work too hauling feed to cattle and hauling firewood, or bringing bales in from the field, added Just. 

In some aspect their proponents see horses having advantages over a tractor. 

“They’re quieter compared to a tractor,” noted Nagy. 

And, there are conveniences too. 

“If you want to open a gate you just step off (whatever you are having the horses pull). You don’t have to climb in and out of a cab (on a tractor),” said Nagy. 

The cost of a tractor, and the diesel to operate it are a factor too, noted Just. 

And, horses have a definite personality “that tractors don’t have,” she added. 

Just said when you are working with a team of horses you develop “a relationship with your team. 

“It’s a partnership” which is actually multifaceted, said Just. 

To start with the horses that are part of a team “must learn to work together” otherwise they are “hard to drive,” explained Just. 

“They also have to learn you as a driver,” she said, adding every driver has a different personality and approach and the team must recognize and trust the command. 

“They have to get to know what you want,” she said. 

That was what Yorkton was all about this year with her team, learning together as both Duke and Andy are just learning about being chore horses at only four years of age, being first hooked together in March. 

For Nagy, competing in events like the one in Yorkton are part of his routine with his horses. 

The team he entered in Yorkton, another he has at home, both competed earlier this year at the Calgary Stampede and later this month they’ll head to Agribition in Regina where one team will be in the horse pulls, the other in the chore team competition. 

In Calgary Bob and Dan were fifth in the heavyweight pulling, with Fred and Barney doing a bit better coming in third.  

Nagy also took the award in Calgary for having the best looking team. 

Nagy said to be ready for competition he drives his teams about an hour-and-a-half a day, adding for chore competition it is basically doing chores “feeding cows, or we just hook up and phone some friends and go for a drive.” 

Keith Neumier of Langenburg with Gravel and Surprise took top spot in the two-day Yorkton competition from among 11 entries. 

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