Feb 13, 2010 – Painting A Day Project

Belgian

Belgian

OK, back to my equine subject matter!  You knew I wouldn’t stray from that subject for too long.

Today’s little painting is of a Belgian draft horse after a draft horse pull.  These horses are amazing!  Strong and powerful yet, typically gentle giants.  I love to watch these pulls, I truly believe that the horses get as competitive as the owners and do like what they’re doing.  Some think this type of activity is cruel.  I disagree….these horses were used for power, that’s what they’re built for.  Since we no longer use horses to run the farm, we need to find other uses and keep some of these activities alive.  Now, I’m not saying some owners aren’t cruel….I’ve also seen a lot of that, however, the pulls I’ve been to do not allow buggy whips or anything and the owners communicate with mouth commands and the reins.  If a horse is not into it or has no interest that day, no matter what the owner says, they’ll only pull as hard or as far as they want to. 

I met an 80 year old horseman at one of these pulls.  He had a team of huge, grey, Percherons.  Beautiful horses.  I really enjoyed talking with him about his animals.  You could tell he’d learned his teamster skills in the schools of “years of experience” and “when I was growing up” and had probably been using work animals since he could walk.  He had a genuine appreciation and affection for his animals and it showed as he unharnessed them and prepped them for the drive home (which was almost a 3 hour drive for him).  It was impressive to me that he did all of the harnessing, loading, and hauling himself…..occaisionally using a step stool for extra reach. 

Since I had gotten to that particular pull late, his weight class had already pulled and were finished.  I asked him how his horses had done.  He commented, “Well, we didn’t do too well tonight.  They tried, but they tell me when enough is enough and stop.”  He didn’t swat them with the reins or yell more or even take the option of a second attempt at the last pull.  His team told him they didn’t have it in them that night and he listened.  He then shared a few stories about the horses and their different personalities while he walked over with a couple of kids so they could pet the horses.  Finally, as he was finished loading, he told me that they were starting to get up in age (13 and 15, if I remembered right) and that they’d probably be his last team.  I took down his info. and told him I’d send him copies of the photos I’d taken and as I walked away, I couldn’t help be impressed with him and the fact that he’s still doing what he loves.  I was also a little saddened, knowing he may not be able to participate in the pulls too many more seasons. 

Yep, I have a special place in my heart for those gray headed teamsters in bibs! 

Miss ya grampa ship!

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