Rama event continues tradition of horses doing farm work

The tradition of horses working in the field continued in Rama on August 24 and 25 as the Performing Arts and Leisure Society (PALS) hosted its annual fall draft horse field days at the Rama Sports Grounds.

The wet conditions forced the cancellation of the threshing demonstration on August 25, but other events went ahead as planned for the most part, according to organizers.

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Approximately 20 volunteers were involved in organizing and running the event.     

“Everyone did an amazing job of getting things ready for the weekend, working the two days and helping with cleanup afterward,” said Nancy Genoway, one of the organizers.

“There were over 250 people between the two days. We were very happy with the attendance and the weekend in general, considering what the weather was like.”

Genoway said the pancake breakfast was well attended both days, as was the supper on Saturday, which included perogies, smokies and coleslaw with dessert followed by entertainment.

During the draft horse portion of the weekend, the teamsters cultivated, plowed, disced, harrowed, cut and raked hay and then had the teamster competitions.

A total of 14 teamsters with 15 teams of horses participated in one, or both days of the event: Louis Bartok of Broadview (Clydesdales), Cameron Last of Lintlaw (Clydesdales), Tom Rowley of Yorkton (Clydesdales), Royden and Val Crone of Humboldt (Clydesdales), Duncan Arthur of Preeceville (Percherons), Rae Rosenkerr of Preeceville (Brabants), Keith Neumeir of Langenburg (Percherons), Ken Schreiner of Nipawin (Belgians), Kristina Just of Yorkton (Belgians), Jillian Just of Yorkton (Belgians), Twylla Newton of Yorkton (Clydesdales), Michelle Newton of Moosomin (Clydesdales), Morgan Wallington of Pelly (Percherons) and Lloyd Smith of Pelly (two teams of Percherons).

After about one tenth of an inch of rain, a number of teamsters used lighter tillage equipment such as spring-tooth harrows and diamond harrows to work the top inch or two of the soil in an effort to dry it out a bit for other field work later in the day.

Rae Rosenkerr of Yorkton ran a spring-tooth harrow over the field with his horses Barney and Fred, a pair of Brabants named after the popular Flintstones characters. Brabant is a smaller version of the more well-known Belgian breed.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with horses,” said Rosenkerr. “When I was younger I was involved with gymkhana and the local riding club.”

Keith Neumeir brought his two white Percheron mares, Surprise and her mother Gravel, and had them on three sections of diamond harrows for the field work.

“They work together really well,” he said. “I’ve had them teamed up for about 10 years.”

Later in the day, Lloyd Smith and his granddaughter Morgan Wallington of Pelly hooked up a team of six black Percherons and did some field work with a 16-foot disc. The team combined Smith’s horses Jake, Star, Daisy and Tom with Wallington’s team of Fisher and Beauty.

“We try to use them for odd jobs around the farm as much as possible,” said Smith. “It’s important that they get regular practice working together as a team.”

Ken Schreiner of Nipawin brought his team of Belgians, two mares named Ruby and Jewel. He hooked them up to a mower from the PALS line of equipment and cut some hay. Schreiner said he enjoys educating the general public about farming methods that were used many years ago, before tractors came along.

“I also enjoy the camaraderie at this event. You meet lots of good people,” he said.

Jillian Just of Yorkton raked some hay with a pair of Clydesdales, a gelding named Scottie and a bay mare named Claire, owned by Tom Rowley of Yorkton. Just is presently studying animal science at the U of S with the goal of becoming a veterinarian, and enjoys working with draft horses. She is just one of the young people taking an active interest in making sure the tradition doing farm work with draft horses continues for future generations.

“I’ve been coming to this event for about 10 years,” said Rowley. “You meet so many good people here and I’ve learned so much from just talking to them.”

Rowley’s team was pulling a side delivery International rake built in the 1950’s. The rake was donated to PALS by Enge Brothers of Rama, who had been previously using it behind a tractor, according to Ron Mocyk, one of the organizers.

“It was in good shape,” said Mocyk, “so all we had to do is put a pole on it, and now we can use it behind horses.”

The two days of teamster competitions included driving competitions on both days and log skidding on Sunday.

In day one of the driving competition, Lloyd Smith of Pelly placed first in a time of 5 minutes, 24 seconds. Keith Neumeir of Langenburg was second in 5:31, followed by Michelle Newton of Moosomin in third place in a time of 6:17.

On day two, Smith again claimed the top spot, cutting his winning time to 4:38. Neumeir once again finished second, also improving his time, to 4:54. Royden Crone of Humboldt finished third in 5:38.

Crone then won first place in the log skidding competition in a time of 1:05, ahead of Neumeir in second place in 1:12. The third place position went to Rae Rosenkerr of Preeceville in 1:16.

Steve Halifax of Rama, a former missionary, led the Sunday Cowboy Church Service on August 25. In his opening prayer he gave thanks for the many years of farming the land in Saskatchewan with all the bountiful crops, and prayed for the safety of the teamsters “as they’re horsing around.”

He spoke on the theme of forgiveness, encouraging listeners to “please open your hearts to God’s forgiveness and then pass on His forgiveness to others.”

Halifax shared several scripture passages, including Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

During the service, the PALS jammers sang a number of gospel favourites, including, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Amazing Grace, Whispering Hope and The Old Rugged Cross.

The musicians who performed during the weekend included: Liz Okrainetz and Nancy Genoway of Rama (vocal), Mary Kuras of Invermay (vocal), Shelden Landstad of Rama (vocal and guitar), Judy Johnson of Preeceville (vocal), Nicole (vocal) and Aaron Halifax (vocal and ukulele) of Rama, Marilyn Fredsberg (vocal and guitar) and Eugene McKenzie (vocal and base guitar) from Wynyard, and Russ Baldwin (vocal, mandolin, violin, guitar and banjo) from Yorkton.