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'Just like kids': Draft horse pulling highlights Good Ol' Taylor Days

Draft horses were once the plows that planted and harvested the fields before automatic machinery took over. We look into draft horses at the Good Ol’ Taylor Days with its horse-drawn harvesting demonstrations and how North Dakotans are preserving that way of farming.

Darrel O'Shea, of Turtle Lake, .N.D., reins his team of blue roan Percherons during the horse drawn harvesting on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, during the Good Ol' Taylor Days in Taylor. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Over the past weekend in Taylor, draft horses and their owners traveled from across the state to convene for the horse drawn harvesting, harnessing an old tradition of the past.

As part of the Good Ol’ Taylor Days, the horse drawn harvesting attracted approximately a dozen of horse lovers, who spent Saturday afternoon dressing their horses in work harnesses and hitching them up to either a wagon, potato digger or another piece of old-fashioned farm equipment.

Sherman Seberson, who helps coordinate the horse drawn harvesting and planting events, has been involved with the Taylor community for several years.

“Luckily, we have all of these people that are willing to come. Some had quite a distance to bring their horses in and do some of this farm work,” Seberson said.

Seberson, who has a team of Norwegian Fjords, enjoys reuniting with old friends with each Good Ol’ Taylor Days as well as preserving a custom of the past.


“It’s just fun to see it in action, you know. You hear about it from your dads years ago, and to find these people that are experienced with doing this kind of work (is great). We’re lucky that we got some younger ones coming along that can learn from this. So this is a good chance for them to do that,” he said. “They can start out with a piece of farm equipment like a disc or a plow and work up to other kinds of equipment. So it’s fun to see all of this operate.”

A man prepares a gray Percheron draft horse for the horse drawn harvesting on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, during the Good Ol' Taylor Days in Taylor. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

A team of gray Percheron draft horses pull a wagon in a plowed field on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, during the Good Ol' Taylor Days in Taylor. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

For Darrel O’Shea of Turtle Lake, his team of blue roan Percherons — Stacy and Star — are “just like kids,” to him.

After a little push and tug from his neighbor who had draft horses, O’Shea purchased his first team of blonde Belgains in 1989.


“That’s what this country was made of with these horses years ago. So that’s why I like to do this, but I was brought up with horses,” O’Shea noted, adding that in his younger years he used to team rope.

Lonnie Feilmeier, of Watford City, has been working with draft horses for about seven years. This year, he brought three blue roan Percherons — Opal, Pillar and Kelcie — and his 2-year-old black Percheron colt Raven. While harnessing his horses up, Feilemeier teased that he “takes any color as long as it’s blue roan.”

“Gotta be in some cult, it might as well be horses,” he said, with a laugh.

One day, Feilmeier hopes to have a six-horse hitch of blue roan Percherons — something that resembles the Budweiser draft horse ensemble except blue roan is a little more unique, he added.

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