I've been wondering my whole life, which heavy horse team may plow the most accurate furrow. You too?? 😁
Of course, I'm kidding. I have to admit, furrows never really interested me. Sometimes, while driving to the office, I notice them on fresh plowed fields, because of their structure, but usually my eyes are (beneath the traffic) more focused on movement in the fields, hoping to discover some birds of prey, or rabbits, or - against all propabilities - some grizzleys.
But there are obviously more people all over the world, than I thought, who pay attention to accurate plowed furrows. How do I know ? Because in several countries ploughing-championships take place. There are even world- championships existing. Some with horses, others with tractors. Ploughing matches became very popular among country folks in the 19th century. They started as a result of challenges between ploughmen to see who could draw the straightest furrow, and developed into the very complex competitions.
Last weekend I visited the 'German heavy-horse-ploughing-championships'. I don't think I would visit a ploughing-championship only with tractors, because my interest in tractors is really limited, but hey - I'm a girl, it's understandable that I prefer horses, or?
The competition was organized by the 'Hessenpark' in cooperation with the 'Interessengemeinschaft Zugpferde E.V.' (Sorry, I have no idea how to translate 'Interessengemeinschaft Zugpferde'. I think, 'dray-horse interest group' matches best. Unfortunately they only have a german website.)
The Hessenpark offers numerous different events during the year, it's a very popular open air museum in this region. Click on the link, if you like to know more about it, or wait a while (a few month or so ;)) until I publish a post about the park, it really deserves one.
But in todays post, I want to introduce you to this adorable and beautiful gentle giants and their human counterparts.
When I arrived around 11 a.m., the heavy-horse-teams were already on the field. All together there were 23 teams. The weather couldn't have been better, the sun was shining and it was warm enough to wear shorts and sandals. (Got a light sunburn during the day - very unusual, mid of october in mid of germany !!!) The horses were all 'dressed up' and decorated and looked very pretty.
Each team got a staked area in the field, which had to be plowed in a special time. At the end, referees examined the furrows and distributed points. The final furrows must be straight and run exactly parallel to the back pass. Also the depth of the furrows have to be equal, no green should be visible anymore and several other criteria have to match. Believe me, I never thought, that the creation of furrows is such a science.
Heavy horse teams can be with - and without a driver. The 'driver' is responsible for the communication with the horses thru the lines, body language and voice commands. The plower is responsible for the ground driving and the line adjustment to the field - and another thousand things, I've no idea about.😉
The two lovely young ladies in the photos above, attracted all visitors with their traditional dresses. (Team Hamburg) Watching this young women working with their horses, was like being transported by a time machine into the beginning of the last century. During my research for this post, I read, that there are meanwhile several young farmers, who again practice the traditional plowing with horses.
During the time of plowing, I circled the field once, to watch all the teams, so I got different natural light settings, what I really enjoyed. For nearly all photos above, I used my Canon EF 300mm f/4 L lens. It's heavy ( 1.165 kilo = 2 pounds), but when I watched the results in the evening, I was mega happy, that I decided to carry it with me. The photos are freehand - no tripod, because I don't have a donkey who carries all the equipment.
After all the teams finished their plowing, the participants took care of their horses and the referees examined and evaluated the single areas.
The final award ceremony took place inside the Hessenpark. The best plower was 'tatata' : Daniel Hoffmann with 96,81 points. Team Hessen
And here are the winners of the hearts :
As far as I'm concerned - I definitely will have much more respect in future, when I see a fresh plowed field with it's parallel furrows. (Also when it was done with a tractor!)