Draft Horse Town

The yoke of oxen (Bright and Lion) are new residents of Alberta. Sterling Gates, the former owner and drover in the above photo, delivered the yoke from Nova Scotia in time for Draft Horse Town as they were recently sold to David Farran of Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley. David, a committee member with Draft Horse Town, also brought Bright and Lion to the Bar U Ranch threshing in Sept. They were shown in Calgary in a head yoke.

Founded in 2010, Draft Horse Town at the Calgary Stampede is a massive (excuse the pun) hit with heavy horse fans and nostalgia buffs.

Not content to merely display the historical equipment that opened the West, these teamsters hitch up their heavies at least twice a day to show visitors how it’s done.

Along with the demonstrations of the wide array of farming equipment and driving skills, visitors also watched blacksmiths in action, wheelwrights making wagon wheels from start to finish, saw how the old firefighters of Calgary put the blazes out with their horse-drawn equipment (how they harnessed the horses is a revelation), and of course, learned about the cultural treasures famous for their horses — namely Fort Steele near Cranbrook, B.C., and their black Clydes who put on a tremendous logging demonstration with their massive Michigan wheel, and the Bar U Ranch near Longview, Alta., and the historical role their Percherons played in settling the West. Draft Horse Town also showcased the ingenious array of horse-drawn road building equipment, from simple slips to towering 16-horse graders, that built many of the roadways we still use today.

This year, one of the highlights was the 12-horse field hitch (three rows of horses hitched four across) on a Sawyer Massey road grader, which was demonstrated twice a day.