Horsepower will be on display at Fairgrounds on April 25

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 April 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

WATERPORT – Nick Nesbitt is pictured with Mike, a Belgian draft horse that is part of a horse-pulling team. Nesbitt has been competing in horse pulls for the past decade and will vie in the lightweight division (3,425 pounds or less for two horses) on April 25 at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

This will be the second straight year the fairgrounds will host the horse pull. It is expected to draw at least 20 teams from the Northeast.

The competition used to be held at the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse but moved to Knowlesville last year.

“This will kick off the pulling season in the Northeast,” Nesbitt said today in Waterport at his horse barn on Wilson Road. “You’re going to see some of the best pullers in the country.”

The competition starts at noon at April 25 and features the lightweight division and then the heavyweights, where both horses top a combined weight of 3,425 pounds.

They will pull a diorama just like in the tractor pulls. That diorama, in the final pulls, can simulate 160,000 pounds. The teams of horses need to pull it 27 ½ feet for a full pull.

This Belgian draft horse is named Skip and is the other half of Nick Nesbitt’s draft horse pulling team. The Belgian draft horses are muscular, bred to pull a heavy load.

The horse pulling teams will compete in the main livestock building at the fairgrounds and there will be bleachers inside for spectators.

Nesbitt said the horses like the competition.

“They love it,” he said. “They are proud after they pull a big load.”

Nesbitt, an apple farmer, grew up watching horse pull competitions with his father Steve and family friend Gordon Bentley. Nesbitt has competed in the sport the past 10 years, often training with the horses two hours a day. He is a past winner at the Erie County Fair and the Warren County Fair.

The draft horses impress the crowds at the events, he said. Long before machines, draft horses provided the muscle on farms and numerous public works projects.

“The whole country was built on draft horses,” Nesbitt said.

He hopes a big crowd turns out for the competition on April 25.

“The louder the crowd, the more into it the pullers and horses get,” he said.

For more information on horse pulling, visit