April 2020 – Draft Horses Keep the Past Alive

It’s history we take for granted—like the fact that we get on from the left side because soldiers of times-gone-by mounted that way in order to keep their swords (worn on the left hip) out of the way. Nowadays, the dashboard is where we look to see how fast we’re speeding, but back in the day it was truly a board on the front part of a carriage or sleigh to keep water, mud, or snow from getting thrown up by the heels of the horses onto the passengers. And if you’ve ever called out “shotgun” as dibs on the front passenger seat, you’re taking the spot once occupied by someone carrying a shotgun to protect a stagecoach full of treasure from would-be thieves and marauders. History is passed on and kept alive by those who tell its stories, or demonstrate them, as is the case at the various Oregon Draft Horse Breeders Association shows held at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center every year.

On Saturday, April 4, you’ll see horses and mules plow the spring earth as they compete in the plow competition. Teams of Percherons, Belgians, and many others work straight furrowed rows with tight turns at each end. On Saturday, June 20, the association is giving a demonstration on haying implements that use actual horsepower. No dealer mechanic needed if there’s an equipment failure. Arrive early for the pancake breakfast and you can support the 4-H Wagon Train fundraiser. And on August 15 and 16 the Heritage Center hosts the Harvest Fest where you can see the teams back in action harvesting the plots planted earlier in the year.

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