Traditional farming methods featured at Draft Horse Field Days in Rama

The 2019 spring edition of the PALS (Performing Arts and Leisure Society) Draft Horse Field Days was held in Rama on May 18 and 19.

Walter Hughes of Preeceville, PALS president, said approximately 20 volunteers were involved in putting on the event. In spite of a chilly wind, over 250 spectators enjoyed the two days of activities.

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A pancake and sausage breakfast started both days.

Hughes said in addition to being a fun event, Draft Horse Field Days plays an important role in educating area residents regarding the region’s history.

“We let people know what their ancestors did and how farming started in this area,” said Hughes. “Young people need to know how their ancestors farmed. Many people are surprised to learn that horses were still used by a number of farmers in this area in the 1950s and 60s, even after tractors became available, especially the smaller farmers.”

The teamsters who brought their horses and participated in the event were: Lloyd Smith of Pelly with Percherons, Duncan Arthur of Preeceville with Percherons, Twylla Newton of Yorkton with Clydesdales, Michelle Newton of Moosomin with Clydesdales, Kristina Just and her daughter Jillian of Yorkton with one Belgian and one Norwegian Fjord, Royden Crone of Humboldt with Clydesdales, Tom Rowley of Yorkton with Clydesdales, Glen Zulyniak of Yorkton with Percherons, Keith Neumeier of Langenburg with Percherons and Rae Rosenkerr of Preeceville with Brabant horses.

During the event, Rosenkerr pulled a six-foot single disc with his team of Brabant horses, named after Barney and Fred from The Flintstones. He said the Brabant is a smaller version of the more well-known Belgian breed.

Rosenkerr was born in 1944 and grew up on a family farm near Preeceville, where he still lives.

“Even though we acquired our first farm tractor in 1952, I continued to develop my interest in heavy horses,” he recalled. “Farming with horses is so much less stressful than tractors. You can hear the birds singing, talk to the horses and enjoy rest stops for the horses every once in a while.”

Duncan Arthur attended the event with his black and white pair of Percherons named Duke and Maud. He said he grew up on an Alberta farm where horses were the preferred source of power, and still uses them to feed his sheep.

“They’re cheaper to run than a tractor and they don’t run over the sheep,” said Arthur.

He said the Draft Horse Field Days are an excellent opportunity to spend time with other heavy horse enthusiasts.

“I always learn lots from other experienced teamsters at events like this, whether it’s dealing with unexpected situations or making harness adjustments,” said Arthur.

Kristina Just and her daughter Jillian of Yorkton came to Rama with their large Belgian horse Barney and their significantly smaller Norwegian Fjord horse Buddy to do some harrowing. Kristina said the pair has only been together for about three weeks. Even though they look like a real odd couple, they’re actually a good match.

“They each lost their partners recently,” said Kristina. “The little guy has a very aggressive stride, which matches up well with big Barney.”

Michelle Newton of Moosomin brought her Clydesdales Anne and Grace, and teamed them with Bunny and Cassie, two Clydesdales owned by her sister-in-law, Twylla Newton of Yorkton, to form a four-horse team.

Michelle and Twylla took turns driving the team on a 12-foot disc. Michelle said this was the second weekend of working together for the four horses, and they all appeared to be doing well. Twylla said she could tell the horses at the event weren’t quite as comfortable in the wind as they would have been in calmer conditions.

“If you ever watch horses in a pasture on a windy day, they always want to stand with their butts to the wind,” she said. “But on a day like today, we’re making them work facing the wind about half the time.”

Twylla said she appreciated the wide selection of horse drawn equipment available for teamsters to work with at the Rama event.

The majority of the equipment belongs to PALS, after being donated by a number of area residents. The names of those making the donations has been recognized with plaques on the equipment.

Those who have donated equipment include: Justin and Korwin Enge of Invermay, Donald Veregin of Buchanan, Grant Peters of Preeceville and Louis Swiderski, Adolph and Greg Wolkowski, Shelden Landstad, Adam Skoretz, Eugene Prychak and Bud Landstad of Rama.

Lloyd Smith of Pelly has been attending Draft Horse Field Days for a number of years with his team of four Percheron horses. This year he hooked up the all-sibling team of Tom, Daisy, Star and Jiggs to an antique Cockshutt drill and seeded a few acres of oats on land owned by PALS. If the weather co-operates, that crop will be harvested with a threshing machine at the fall edition of the PALS Draft Horse Field Days.

The field demonstrations are being held on a different field than what was used in 2018, one with a significant number of rocks. And, like their forefathers, a number of volunteers headed out and manually loaded rocks on to a horse-drawn wagon without the aid of modern rock picking equipment.

Glen Zulyniak of Yorkton and his two Percheron horses provides rides around the grounds for spectators.

On both days of the event, the field demonstrations were followed by teamster competitions.

On May 18, Lloyd Smith finished first in the chore team competition with a time of 6 minutes, 30 seconds. Royden Crone was second in 7 minutes, 20 seconds; with Kristina Just in third place at 8 minutes, 21 seconds.

On May 19, Rae Rosenkerr took the top spot in the chore team competition at 6 minutes, 57 seconds; narrowly beating out Royden Crone, who improved his time to 7 minutes, 1 second. Duncan Arthur placed third in 7 minutes, 39 seconds.

Among those providing musical entertainment were: Judy Johnson (vocal) of Preeceville, Lynne Harley (vocal) of Saskatoon, Nancy Genoway (vocal) of Rama, Shelden Landstad (vocal and guitar) of Rama, Russ Baldwin (mandolin) of Yorkton, Marilyn Fredsberg (guitar and vocals) and Gene McKenzie (bass and vocals) of Wynyard and Don Kulscar (accordion) of Ebenezer.  

A Cowboy Church Service was held on May 19 with Lorne Stoltzfus of Sturgis serving as the minister.