Blue Ridge Horse Pullers Association thrills crowds at Hampton Event

Published 12:31 pm Monday, October 16, 2023

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By Rob Fritts

On Saturday, October 14th, in Hampton, the Blue Ridge Horse Pullers Association came to town for a sanctioned benefit Horse Pull for the Hampton Boys Basketball Booster Club. The rain and clouds cleared out around noon and a great crowd gathered in a picturesque setting with fall colors all around the mountains in a field off Rittertown Road. Prior to the horse teams getting started to pull, volunteers were busy serving up some delicious barbecue pork with all the fixings and homemade desserts. They also had some great pizza for the little ones attending that seemed to be a big hit. 

As the teams of horses unloaded, spectators had the opportunity to see these magnificent horses up close. Kids were able to pet these horses and some even got pictures with them as well. A little after one-thirty in the afternoon, it was time to get started. Donald Davis led prayer for everyone in attendance, followed by the National anthem with the Hampton-Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Department flying a large American Flag from their ladder truck for all to see. 

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The Blue Ridge Horse Association had two classes for the pulling competition on Saturday. The first class was Lightweights, which is 3400 pounds or less combined weight between both horses. Heavyweights: each horse team will weigh more than 3400 pounds with combined weight. Teams of horses hook to a metal sled stacked with cinder blocks with the goal to pull the loaded weight twenty-seven and half feet for a full pull distance. After each round, they add one thousand pounds of weight to what is already on the sled and each remaining team will pull again. 

Members of the Hampton Boys Basketball team worked side by side with other volunteers Saturday, loading the weight to the sled after each round, getting their lifting in over the weekend for Hampton Boys Basketball Head Coach Ned Smith. In the Lightweight class, Odell Coley with his horse team of Oscar and Champ from Statesville, NC got things started with a pull of 3,000 pounds. Sam Bailey from Hampton followed with his team of Rem and Bob making the 3,000-pound pull with ease as well. 

The Lightweight class would be a battle with each round adding another thousand pounds of weight to the sled. After seven successful pulls, Coley’s team of Oscar and Champ pulled 9,000 pounds on the sled for a full pull and elected to stop after that pull. Bailey would press on with his team, Rem and Bob, pulling an amazing 13,000 pounds on his final pull and the crowd cheered in amazement at what those horses had just done. Sam Bailey of Hampton was declared the winner of the Lightweight class. 

In the Heavyweight class, Brett Burkhart of Lexington, NC, got things going with 4,000 pounds on the sled. Burkhart, who brought two teams of horses to compete, first up was Rex and King for him, which easily made the 4,000-pound pull. Josh Stevenson from Trendy, NC, took to the pull area with his team, Roy and Rowdy, pulling the 4,000 pounds like it was a box of toothpicks behind the horses on the sled. Burkhart was up with his second team, Randy and Pearl; again, the starting weight on the sled was no match. Scott Robinson from Butler rounded out the Heavyweight class with his horse team of Jimmy and Ben, which made quick work of the 4,000 pounds on the sled as well. 

One of the “hookers,” as they are called that hook the horses to the sled for Robinson is his son Tuff Robinson who plays basketball for Hampton High School and was a part of last season’s TSSAA Class A State Championship team. All four pairs of the Heavyweight horse teams pulled nine successful pulls going from 4,000 pounds, increasing the weight by a thousand pounds each time all the way to 11,000 pounds as this is where Stevenson’s team of Roy and Rowdy would have a full pull and elect to stop for the day. 

At 12,000 pounds, Burkhart’s team Randy and Pearl would have a full pull and elect to stop after that pull. Each pull of the day was measured out by Jimmy Neil and Danny Olinger and then recorded by Margaret Olinger of the Blue Ridge Horse Association. Eddie Wilson was getting excited as the PA Announcer as 13,000 pounds was added to the sled. The crowd watched with anticipation as there were six and a half tons now on the sled. With 13,000 pounds loaded on the sled, all eyes were on these last two teams standing. Would it be Jimmy and Ben with Scott Robinson from Butler, or would it be Rex and King with Brett Burkhart of Lexington, NC?  

After some intense moments of pulling, it was Jimmy and Ben for Scott Robinson that got the only full pull at 13,000 pounds making Scott Robinson the winner of the Heavyweight class. Burkhart’s team of Rex and King was only able to pull the 13,000 pounds five feet nine inches, still, an amazing feat when you think about that much weight being pulled by two horses. Robinson and Bailey’s horse team out-dueled the teams of Coley, Burkhart and Stevenson to make it a Tennessee sweep over North Carolina based horse teams. 

The Hampton Boys Basketball Booster Club would like to thank everyone who made this event a huge success. They would especially like to thank all the sponsors of the event, The Blue Ridge Horse Pullers Association, all the pull teams, spectators and all the volunteers who helped with this event.

**Note- Follow Blue Ridge Horse Pullers Association on Facebook for more of their upcoming events.