St. Lawrence Valley Draft Horse Club Purpose

PURPOSE AND HISTORY

The purpose of the St. Lawrence Valley Draft Horse Club is to promote the use of, and ownership of, Clydesdale, Percheron, Belgian, Shire, Suffolk, and other breeds of draft horses. Our goal is to increase the number of people who responsibly own and enjoy draft horses. The Club was founded over 30 years ago when there was a modest increase in interest in draft horses.

So much knowledge had been lost about how draft horses could be used, and the equipment suitable for working with draft horses, that we began to gather that information and look for ways to share it with the general public. We also recognized that we had a responsibility to attract others to our cause.

There has been a steady increase in interest in draft horses ever since. In fact, the Club has grown over the years so that today we have nearly 100 members, many of whom do not even own horses. Some of our members today are children and grandchildren of the original members of the club. St Lawrence Valley Draft Horse Club sponsors a wide variety of projects each year designed to show draft horFall 2003ses to the public.
We also run clinics to teach how to work with draft horses safely, and to help new draft horse owners learn how to enjoy their draft horses.

We love these gentle giants who are so steady, who willingly lend us their strength.

We also restore antique farm implements which traditionally were used with draft horses. Some of our members pursue older crafts which were in regular use over a hundred years ago, and which might be lost without efforts such as ours.

ANNUAL EVENTS

• The St. Lawrence Valley Draft Horse Club sponsors several projects each year designed to promote draft horses in the valley.

• The first event of the year is normally (weather permitting) a sleigh rally. Members of the public are invited to catch rides on horse-drawn sleighs, and enjoy cocoa and coffee afterwards.

• In April the Club sponsors a Draft Horse Clinic, where training in managing horse teams around an obstacle course (forwards and backwards) is taught. Those who qualify have an opportunity to hitch a team to a variety of farm equipment, which plow, harrow, and plant. There are also a number of demonstrations and hands-on opportunities presented by Club members. Topics usually include how to drive your horses, and harness them.

054 4 horse plow• In May, when the ground is suitable for planting, the Club selects a field, and conducts a plowing demonstration at a suitable location, usually near Fowler, New York. Club teams demonstrate the art of plowing with draft horses using riding and walking plows. There are also demonstrations of harrowing and planting. The public enjoys a grand display of how it used to be.

• Late in August, Club members meet for a two day wagon ride along trails and roads of St. Lawrence County. There is camping, a barbeque dinner, stories around the campfire and fun. The event creates quite a stir with folks unused to seeing such large horses.

• In early September, at Plow Days, the club demonstrates how corn, sorghum and potatoes were harvested using horses. Following the harvesting, demonstrations in antique corn shucking and sorghum squeezing mystify attendees. The sorghum demonstration doesn’t stop there. The sweet juices are then boiled down to a type of molasses. Horse-drawn wagon rides transport visitors to and from the fields as well as around the Plow Days demonstrations. The weather is usually brilliant and spectators are welcome to join in the fun by helping load and unloading wagons with corn stalks that have been cut. A variety of horse-powered equipment is on display, including sawmills. Some blacksmiths join in the fun as well.

MONTHLY EVENTS
Every fourth Wednesday we hold meetings at the Richville Fire Department.

Check our calendar regularly, as we update it with the latest details on a regular basis.