Kentucky Spring Field Day at Mike Downs’
by Mike Atkins of Stockdale, OH
photos by Rick Conley of Lawrenceburg, IN
On a warm, beautiful weekend in April, after a cold, wet winter, Mike and Joyce Downs hosted the Spring Field Days – Plowing competition in Olympia, Kentucky. Mike is the current President of the Eastern Kentucky Draft Horse Association and Joyce is the secretary.
The plowing competition consisted of seven teams broken into two-horse hitch, three-horse hitch and a seven-horse hitch using two-bottom plows. Most plows were Pioneer but spectators along with other teamsters got to see a White Horse plow and an Oliver plow as well. The horses, the plows and the teamsters worked well together turning over the ground throughout the day.
Several long time contestants were in attendance for this competition. The following teamsters are regular attendees at this Spring Field Day:
Charlie Orme used a three-horse hitch with a Pioneer plow exhibiting outstanding plowmanship.
Charles Orme (The Legend) used a three-horse hitch with a Pioneer plow, as well. Both father and sons worked the ground using their skills and knowledge of the land and horses.
Mark Orme used a three-horse hitch with a new Pioneer plow, also demonstrating his skills and knowledge of the land and horses.
Irvil Rogers with two Suffolk’s colts that he trained were hitched to an old Oliver plow that did quite well turning over the ground. Irvil is quite the teamster and did well during the competition.
Shannen Mannies, from Logansport, Indiana, attended with a three-horse hitch using a 14” White Horse plow that did a great job in turning ground. Shannen is also the 2013 Two-Horse National Plowing Champion awarded at Dayton, OH.
Mike Downs, our host, plowed with a three-horse hitch using a 12” Pioneer plow. Mike is an excellent host and one heck of a great plowman. He has an in depth understanding of plows and if any of the other teamsters ran into trouble with their plows Mike was able to assist in fixing the problem.
Ryland Moore, an outstanding plowman, from Dugspur, Virginia, visiting Charles Orme borrowed his horses for a three-horse hitch while pulling a Pioneer plow.
Bobby Jones plowed with a two-horse hitch Pioneer plow. He and his two Belgium mares did a remarkable job working the field.
Darla Mannies, an exceptional lady, took a turn on Shannen Mannies three-horse hitch and plow. She did a superb job, worked well with the horse and plow.
I had a turn on a two-bottom plow, seven-horse hitch (all seven horses owned by the Orme family) the most I have ever driven at one time. I believe I did a fair job for a first timer. There was one other first timer in this hitch and that was the horse on the wheel team in lead, a three-year old stallion named Big John. My brother (Ed Atkins), son (Devin Atkins) and I trained Big John, son of Bent Creek Shade Rock, for Charles Orme.
Joyce Downs and the ladies at the match had lunch ready at noon. This is a tremendous undertaking and is greatly appreciated by all. The ladies provided a first-rate lunch and if you still went hungry it was your own fault.
Tommy Johnson, a key member of the team, provided all transportation for visitors to this event. Driving Mike and Joyce Downs’ wagon he gave a different perspective for the visits as he took them around the fields.
Last but not least Rick Conley, Conley’s Horse Photos, has taken photos at all outings in Kentucky. Rick is an exceptional man and photographer; he has knowledge of the horses, plowing, and teamsters he photographs. Rick’s photos tell the story of the day and provide everlasting memories for all. Thanks for all the memories!