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Draft Horse Show set for this weekend

By Renae B. Vander Schaaf

Date Modified: 07/15/2013 9:55 AM

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SLAYTON, Minn. — The seventh annual Murray County Draft Horse Show in Slayton is planned July 13-14.

Twelve draft horse teams will compete for points in the North American Six Horse Hitch Classic Series. Two of the teams have earned top honors at two shows this year, said Joe Biren, one of the show's originators and a competitor.

The Biren family has Belgians.

Belgian, Clydesdales, Percherons and Shires will be represented . The show draws teams from Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah.

"We had to turn teams away," said Biren. "There is only room for 12 teams. All the teams that competed last year have returned."

Keith Tongen, of Brownton, is the announcer. Jeff Kiewatt, of Le Sueur, is the ringmaster, and Roy Miller, of Hubbard, Iowa, is the judge.

Biren expects about 90 draft show horses to participate. Visitors can watch the grooming, hair braiding and and ask questions.

Old-time farming demonstrations are planned Saturday. Travis Spartz organizes the demonstrations.

Hay will be mowed with horses, raked and hauled to the stationary 1918 Case baler.

The baler is owned by Spartz' grandfather, Vince Crawley. It was used to bale flax.

Crawley has been around horses for most of his 90 years. He still has horses on his Rocking Horse Farm near Slayton. A team of Percherons, Snip and Barney, are well-known. At ages 36 and 34, the horses are well over their average life span. He grew up farming with horses, continuing to do so even after returning from World War II. He was a tail gunner on B-17s and took part in 33 missions.

"When my boys said no more farming with horses, the horses left except the team I kept to haul manure from the dairy cows and doing other odd jobs," he said.

"When I was thirteen years old, my dad gave me the job of plowing," said Crawley. "There were three horses in the back and two in the front of the gang plow. Those horses knew more how to do the job than I did."

Crawley still uses horses to plant potatoes and the 16 rows of corn needed to feed Snip and Barney.

"We will spend a fall day with family, friends and neighbors hand picking corn," said Crawley. "It is fun to watch those little ones. Their eyes light up like its Christmas. The corn ear they pick, they insist on throwing into the wagon themselves.''

Crawley's Case stationary baler rusted in a grove from 1945-95.

Crawley's father purchased a Percheron stallion. Since then, horses have been part of the Crawley family. Travis Spartz said he has learned much and continues to learn from his grandfather.

Crawley has a deep respect for horses.

"The outside of a horse brings out the best of the inside of a man," he said.

"This year's show will also have on display horse-drawn earth moving equipment and the 1904 Hook and Ladder wagon and hose reel that once comprised the Slayton's Fire Department," said Spartz. "They are now part of the Murray County Historical Museum."

The museum will be open on July 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.