A Big Hitch in a Small Country
A Big Hitch in a Small Country
Side view showing hitch in motion, Robert Sampson (on left) driving, with Andy Musgrove (on right) holding the second set of lines.

A Big Hitch in a Small Country

by Daphne Turner of Ovingdean, UK
photographs by David Baker of Ovingdean, UK

In the south of England we have a society, The Southern Counties Heavy Horse Association, formed to keep alive the traditions of heavy draught horse use in agriculture with particular reference to ploughing. Twice a year it holds Working Days open to the general public when members get together to demonstrate the various procedures necessary for preparing the seed bed for cereals.

On the Work Day held in April 2002 the event was held on the land of farmer Robert Sampson, one of the foremost breeders of Percherons in the UK, and he was the driving force behind the decision to try out the largest hitch for agricultural purposes ever put together in the UK. Accordingly, 18 Percheron Horses, mares, geldings and one stallion belonging to several Society members were assembled. Hitched in three rows of six to tractor harrows, using the American system of eveners, the horses, many of whom had never worked together before, were controlled by lines to the bits of the leading nearside and offside horses only. However, for safety, a second line was attached to the two outside horses in the back row and held by a second person riding on the implement platform.

A Big Hitch in a Small Country
View from rear showing John McDermott making a final adjustment to harness.

This hitch was very successful, with only a 30-minute practice the day before, and attracted a large crowd, a photograph of the event appearing on the front page of a prestigious national Sunday newspaper.

Horse owners:
Robert Sampson – 8 horses
John McDermott – 3 horses
Andy Musgrove – 3 horses
Dave Baker – 4 horses