Since the touring season has ended, I thought I’d give you a little peek behind the scenes on what we’ve been up to on the 1900 farm. A few weeks ago, we got a fun opportunity to advance our driving skills with the draft horses. Most of the implements we use on the farm are powered by a basic two-horse hitch, but we have a few implements that require three or even four horses to pull, due to weight or draft load. We don’t get to use these implements often, but the farm staff wanted to learn the ins and outs of multiple hitches. All of our drivers learned different ways to run the lines for three- and four-abreast hitches. We also ground drove (walking behind the horses without an implement attached) and even put the four-horse hitch on a wagon for a spin around the hay field.
Big hitches are a part of American agricultural history. As the number of acres being tilled grew, so did the size of the hitches. The Schandoney equalizing hitch was the first patented large-team equalized hitch. It was patented in 1892 by Peter Schandoney of Sacramento, California. The Talkington hitch was another large-team equalizer popular in the Big Bend section of Washington.
In fact, a modified version of the Talkington hitch was developed by Neil Dimmock of Alberta, Canada, which allowed him to drive the world-record largest agricultural hitch of Percheron draft horses in 2003. He put together a 46-horse-hitch to pull a 26- foot deep tillage cultivator, which was designed to be pulled by a tractor with at least 130 horsepower!
More on Dimmock’s world-record hitch, including a video montage of photos, can be found here. The hitch was 160 feet from front to back, including the cultivator, and a whopping 130 feet from Dimmock’s hands holding the lines to the mouths of the lead horses. I’ve heard of monster trucks, but that is a MONSTER hitch!
Written by Kelly Clime, 1900 Farm Manager