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Sulky Plowing At The Threshermen’s Reunion

MANITOBA AGRICULTURAL MUSEUM RELEASE

A new attraction during the annual Threshermen’s Reunion and Stampede is the people cart attached behind the horse-drawn sulky plow. The cart seats two people and allows them to watch the sulky plow closely while working.

The carts are attracting people for a variety of reasons. The major one is people’s interest in heavy horses and the carts are a unique opportunity to observe heavy horses working close up.

People riding the carts have commented to the operators of the sulky plows, Alex Christison and Art Gibson, about how quiet the teams are while working. Other than the soft thud of hooves on the ground and the jingling of the harness, there is very little sound from the horses as they work.

UNEXPECTED SOUNDS

Many people are surprised that they hear unexpected sounds such as the earth moving over the plowshare and the earth rustling as the plowshare turns it over. People also comment upon the smell of freshly turned soil.

The cart has three wheels with a castoring front wheel. The cart has a tongue connecting the cart to the plow which results in very little weight being transferred to the plow.

The plow then operates as designed. As the front wheel castors, the cart does not interfere with the plow when turning on the headlands. One cart was put into operation behind Art Gibson’s John Deere plow in 2008. The cart immediately attracted a lineup of people waiting to ride it.

A second cart was added in 2009 pulled behind Alex Christison’s Cockshutt plow.

The plow cart resulted from a visit by Art Gibson to Alex Christison in 2008. Art had an idea about pulling people behind a sulky plow so they could get a better view of plowing. Alex thought this was an excellent idea.

Between the two of them, they came up with the three-wheel cart design with a castoring front wheel and a tongue to pull the cart. They were able to quickly build one in the winter of 2007-08 using a harrow cart originally built to be pulled behind Alex’s sulky plow. In the winter of 2008-09 a second people cart was built.

TIRING WORK

The plowing only takes place for an hour or two in the afternoon at the reunion as the teams are involved in other activities such as the threshing contests. So often an hour or so of plowing has tired the teams out and they require a rest. Not many people today realize that when horses were used for plowing in the pioneer era, the farmer would change teams through the day or be using more than two horses on the plow.

Art Gibson brings a set of Belgian heavy horses to the reunion while Alex brings a set of Percheron heavy horses. These teams are well experienced, quiet horses.

The people carts behind the plows will be in action in the 2010 reunion for spectators who want to get close up to the real action.

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