Before Paul Harvey wrote his moving speech So God Made A Farmer horses and farmers had been working together to plow deep and straight rows for years. A couple weeks ago I got a taste for what that work might have looked like way back when. I attended the Oregon Draft Horse Breeders Association plowing competition in McMinnville, Oregon. I was moved not only by the beautiful and hardworking horses, but also by the nostalgia that the drivers and teams conjured. We aren’t so very far away from a time when horses were our transportation, our farming equipment, and a crucial part of our families.
Everyone was friendly and happy to answer questions about their team or share a bit of wisdom about plowing and driving. It looked like a serious workout for both driver and plow horses. Each team had to plow a specific plot of rows. The competition took place at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center, which also had an awesome collection of antique carriages and tractors. Including a wood-carved, horse-drawn hearse.
I hope I captured a bit of the magic I saw that day in these photos.
Fun fact: the horse that is on the right is always walking in the trench plowed by the previous row. In order to keep the team height about the same, they will use a slightly taller right-side horse.
Oh how I love this last photo. He would take a seat to rest between rows, and I imagine him in a very brief prayer.