Horse pull sport misunderstood by some spectators

To the Expositor:

In response to Sally Miller’s letter about horsepulling (‘Horse pulls are an unkind thing to do to beautiful animals,’ page 4) in last week’s edition of the Expositor, thank you for expressing your opinion as a spectator about the sport of horsepulling. I would like to express mine as a participant.

I have been raised among the “pulling scene” my entire life. My dad pulls, as does my husband and I, myself, have competed on a few occasions and we count many pullers as our family’s closest friends.

Our horses, and the horses of our friends and competitors, are treated with the utmost of respect. They are our pride and joy and to suggest that we would intentionally harm them or put them in danger is an insult and slap in the face and could not be farther from the truth.

To put it in perspective—my dad’s team (the one pictured on last week’s Expositor front page) won the pull by pulling 8,250 lbs. His horses (Bob and Jeff) weigh 2,300 and 2,150 lbs respectively. That’s 4,450 lbs. They pulled less than twice their combined body weight (1.8 times to be exact). That would be the equivalent of a 200 lb man moving 360 lbs. Impressive but not impossible (or challenging) for a trained athlete.

Pulling horses are bred to pull. There is a reason you see Belgian horses in the pulling ring and Clydesdales on the Budweiser hitch, the very same reason why Shetland ponies do not run in the Kentucky Derby. Pulling horses were bred to pull and pull because they want to—that is what they love. Our pulling horses go stir crazy if they are not worked—one of our horses will literally go stand in the harnessing rack and put his head into his collar, trying to put it on if he happens to get loose in the barn.

Pullers eat, sleep and breathe their sport, spending countless hours and money on their horses, equipment and feeds to help them perform on such a high level. Our own personal family vacations are spent travelling to Indiana (the heart of the pulling horse world) in order to attend auctions looking for our next prospect. (Incidentally, a good pulling horse can run upwards of $10,000, and a record setting puller can fetch $30,000- so why would we hurt our investment for a five dollar trophy?)

In closing, I hope that the sentiments expressed by Ms. Miller do not represent the public’s opinion on the sport and I invite spectators to come and talk to the teamsters about their horses as I am sure they would be more than happy to show off their “babies” and educate the public.

Thank you.

Katie Pyette-Cyr

Sheguiandah, Ont