Some of most powerful horses in country show strength at Fairgrounds
Photos by Tom Rivers
KNOWLESVILLE – Brian Armison of Centerville in Allegany County competes with his team of powerful horses in Saturday’s “Pull of Champions” at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.
This was the third year the Fairgrounds hosted the horse pull for the New York State Horse Pullers Association. About 25 teams of horses, including many of the top teams from the U.S. and Canada, competed in the event, which kicks off the horse-pulling season.
Armison is on the board of directors for the NYS Horse Pullers Association. The association used to hold the “Pull of Champions” at the state fairgrounds in Syracuse. It was moved to Knowlesville in 2014 through the efforts of horse pull competitor Nick Nesbitt of Waterport as well as the support of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County.
Armison said the Fairgrounds in Knowlesville has proven a good fit providing a more central location for horse pulling teams, as well as a supportive host. He praised 4-Hers for selling food and the Extension staff for maintaining a nice dirt track.
“They’re super accommodating,” Armison said. “They even send us a thank you note.”
A team owned by Dennis Weinberger from Reading, Michigan, captured first place in the lightweight division. Weinbegrer, in black hat, also won the title in 2015 at “The Pull of Champions.” He said the horses need strength and stamina to compete at such a high level. His team won by pulling a dynamometer, 16 feet, 7 inches when the dynamometer was weighed down with an additional 4,400 pounds. The dynamometer, in the final pulls, can simulate 160,000 pounds.
Danny Smith from Cummington, Massachusetts, gets a horse ready for competition. This horse was part of a team of two that combined weighed less than 3,425 pounds. There were 25 teams competing in either the lightweight division (3,425 pounds or less), or the heavyweights for teams that exceed 3,425 pounds.
Charlie Blanchard of Winchester, New Hampshire, puts the harnessing equipment on his horse. He is partners with Danny Smith of Massachusetts.
Josh Wickum of Menomonie, Wisc., leads his team in the finals of the lightweight division. Wickum’s team finished second overall in the division.
4-H kids and volunteers sold food and other concessions at the pull. This photo shows Gail Ebbs and 4-Her Jordan Boccacci selling cotton candy.
The Armison Brothers from Centerville – Caleb, left, and Chris, right – get their team ready for the pull. The brothers, who are Brian Armison’s nephews, just jogged the horses as a warmup for the pull.
About 800 people attended the horse pulls on Saturday. The crowd size and numbers of teams continues to grow with the event since it was moved to the 4-H fairgrounds in Knowlesville.