MELVILLE, Sask. — Wayne Nagy was bitten by the horse pull bug after winning first place at a Qu’Appelle Valley Horse Pull Club harvest day near Vibank, Sask., six years ago.
He is now a member of the club and participates in pulls throughout the summer.
The Calgary Stampede is definitely a highlight, Wayne said. His wife Lorna’s son, David, who farms with them, also attended the Stampede a couple of years ago with a team.
Horses have distinct personalities and that can affect how they pull.
Lorna said some horses don’t like a crowd and won’t perform well.
Sometimes one of the pair will figure out exactly how far to pull the weight and quit at a certain point. The standard required distance is 4.26 metres.
They’ve found that teams usually try hardest in the first round.
“King and Queen will pull hard every time,” Wayne said.
He said teaching a team to start exactly together, each time, is tricky yet critical, particularly at higher weights. A mistake might not be as costly at the lower weights, he added.
“If you watch, the winning ones are exactly in sync or in stride,” he said.
Different ground conditions will also affect how much the horses can pull. That’s why at certain places, the teams will pull more or less than they have elsewhere.
“It gets to be a curling game.”
He said it might look easy watching from the sidelines, but there are teamsters who have had their horses at pulls for decades who are still learning.
It’s also a highly competitive arena.
“As soon as you win one, they’re gunning for you,” he said.
Big money is involved in the United States, Wayne said, with horses selling for $80,000 to $100,000.