Happ’s Plowing: A Chance to Share
by Maureen Harkcom of Ethel, WA
Thirty-nine horses plowing in one field is quite a sight! Compound that with the fact that there were 8 breeds represented in 2, 3, 4 and 9-horse hitches, pulling single-bottom up to 3-bottom plows of walking and riding types from various manufacturers, driven by males and females ranging in age from 16 to 80+.
Spectators (estimated at 300 by the organizers and up to 400 by others) had a great time as they watched for the first time or relived old memories of their days behind a plow. Many actually got their hands onto plow handles for a chance to relive history. One gentleman (whose name unfortunately was forgotten) saw publicity announcing the Plowing Competition just a few days after having seen pictures of his grandfather plowing with teams of horses. He decided to come and see first-hand what his grandfather had done and maybe get a feel for what his grandfather’s life might have been like. Talking to competitors, following them up and down furrows, and finally getting to try it for himself, he spent hours in the beautiful western Washington sunshine learning and making new friends. Smiles on the faces of so many told the story of the kind of day it was. One spectator sought me out to thank us for providing such a wholesome, family-type event (I know at least one family came with 3 generations together) and to express his pleasure in attending an event of those numbers with a very obvious lack of law enforcement – and with no need for its presence.
Experienced plowmen mentored beginners or others with less experience. I even got to take time out to try my hand at a walking plow behind a fast-walking pair (as my torn rotator cuff can attest to, thanks to the only rock anyone saw all day — thank you Gean Courtney) and then on a riding plow behind four Shire mares who obviously knew more than I did about what they were doing (thank you John Erskine).
Three o’clock “off the field” time came and went and dinnertime rolled around before we could get people and horses off the field so that results of judging could be announced. I learned a lot that day, one thing being that people were there to share; not many took the competition side of the competition very seriously. Don Anderson of Toledo, WA was our judge — with a tough job handed to him. Everyone was helping each other so he had to really stay on his toes to know who had done what on the various plots. Don brought years of experience and hours of time with lines in his hands to the event and his knowledge of horses and equipment coupled with his watchful eyes saw all he needed to make his decisions.
When the ribbons were finally presented at dinner (because we couldn’t get competitors off the field at 3 as planned) the following were recognized: Best Looking Lady Plowman, Cathi Greatorex of Longview, WA; Best Looking Male Plowman, Wayne Buckner of Duvall, WA; Youngest Plowhorse, “Eastes” a 2 year old Norwegian Fjord gelding owned by Woody Hoopes of Monroe, WA; Oldest Plowhorse, “Duchess” a 17 year old Suffolk mare owned by Cathi Greatorex; Longest Hauled Horses “Jake” and “Tony” a pair of 8 year old Percheron geldings who made the ferry ride off the island with owner Buzz Larson of Freeland, WA; Best Junior Plowman, Nita Sporseen of Tenino, WA; Best Lady Plowman, Teri Sardinia of Winlock, WA (driving 9 head); Best Open Plowman, Gean Courtney of Oregon City, OR; Best Senior Plowman, Clarence Stancil of Tenino, WA; Best Crown, Clarence Stancil; Best Finish, Clarence Stancil; Best Going Team, Gean Courtney.