Happs Plowing Competition Growing
Happs Plowing Competition Growing
A shot of the field part-way through the day showing some plots completed, some in progress, while some competitors took their lunch break in the shelter of our partially completed barn (in background).

Happ’s Plowing Competition Growing

Maureen Harkcom, Organizer
Grady Layman Photography, Photographer

Things are continuing to keep us busy on our ranch in Ethel, Washington, but we were able to take a day off from working on the building of our training barn to host our third annual Happ’s Horse Plowing Competition. We saw many familiar faces, now friends, as most of those who have attended the past two years returned and we made new friends as a number of new competitors showed up. Wonderful people, those.

Happs Plowing Competition Growing
Ariel Marinetti handles the plow while her father, Gene Courtney, handles the team and keeps a close eye on her. Ariel traded duties with her dad, driving the team part of the time and plowing part of the time.

One of the “improvements” for us was the welcome addition of three new junior competitors. Seven-year-old Ariel Marinetti competed with a team of her dad’s Belgians. Willis Reed, at nine years of age, competed with a three abreast of Belgian mares with an eight-month filly ponied alongside owned by his mentors Wayne Buckner and Geoff Van der Peyl. Rounding out the junior division was Kristin Shilley driving a team of Norwegian Fjords owned by her mentor, Woody Hoopes.

Happs Plowing Competition Growing
Finding the sod tight, Neal McCool of Amity, Oregon and Larry White of Clackamas, Oregon worked together on the first round to warm up the 900-pound mules.

Another big first was the addition of two mule hitches. I have been trying to find mules for the competition, but there just doesn’t seem to be many “in this neck of the woods.” Larry White and Neal McCool each brought their hitch of mules from Oregon and helped us attain one more of our event goals. Another new competitor this year was Tamara Hinck with a team of miniature horses. They proved to be attention-getters with the spectators who braved the western Washington rain to come see an art that most think is long-gone. I hesitate to announce our goals publicly, but we do set a goal of improvement for each year, and I am already working on making sure that next year’s goal is accomplished. We did discuss with the competitors our intention to “toughen up” the rules next year for those serious competitors while still keeping our large “group plow” plot for those who want to come to improve their skills under the tutelage of “the masters.”

Happs Plowing Competition Growing
Will Wisti of Battle Ground, Washington returned this year and added a mare in with his two geldings to compete a three-abreast. This team handled the “honor” of starting the first round for the larger plot used for those who wanted to fall in with a group rather than work their own individual plot.

Don Anderson, well-known teamster and my personal mentor, again allowed me to twist his arm into being our judge. He walked a path back and forth along the end of the plots and could also be seen stepping out into the furrows to give them a closer look. We owe Don a debt of gratitude for all he has done for us and our small attempt to help keep the art of plowing alive.

Happs Plowing Competition Growing
Larry Livingston of Olympia, Washington

As for the plots that were plowed, I hope to spend some hours with my team and a disc followed by… Well, you know the routine, suffice it to say I hope to have whole oats next fall to hold our horses through the winter.

The awards for this year went to:

  • Best Looking Male Plowman – Willis Reed, Carnation, Washington
  • Best Looking Female Plowman – Ariel Marinetti, LaCenter, Washington
  • Youngest Plow Animal – 2-year-old Shire stallion, “Ike,” owned by Les and Carol Courtney, Amboy, Washington
  • Oldest Plow Animal – 19-year-old Percheron gelding, “Jerry” teamed with 18-year-old Percheron mare “Bird,” owned by Clarence Stancil, Tenino, Washington
  • Longest Hauled Animal – “Oscar” and “Bart,” John mules of Neal McCool, Amity, Oregon
  • Best Open Plowman – Duane Van Dyke with Shire mares “Gracie” and “Ellie,” Gaston, Oregon
  • Best Senior Plowing – Larry Livingston driving Belgian geldings, “Dick” and “Duke,” Olympia, Washington
  • Best Junior Plowman – Kristen Shilley driving Norwegian Fjord geldings “Elfenn” and “Istes” owned by Woody Hoopes, Monroe, Washington
  • Honorable Mention Junior Plowman – Ariel Marinetti and Willis Reed
  • Best Lady Plowing – Teri Sardinia driving 9-horse hitch, Winlock, Washington
  • Best Crown – Jeb Michaelson with Duane Van Dyke’s Shire mare “Ninny” and gelding “Willy,” Gaston, Oregon
  • Best Finish – Duane Van Dyke, Gaston Oregon
  • Best Going Hitch – Belgian geldings “Dick” and “Duke” owned and competed by Larry Livingston, Olympia, Washington
  • Best Other Hitch – Fjords “Elfenn” and “Istes” driven by Kristin Shilley and owned by Woody Hoopes, Monroe, Washington
Happs Plowing Competition Growing
Jeb Michaelson of Gaston, Oregon