Plowing with Multi-Horse Hitches

Vintage multi-horse hitches are part of a South Dakota man’s vision.

| November 2017

  • In spring 2017, Alan Sorensen used three of his four Belgians to plow a 5-acre field where he planted corn. Horses (left to right) are Mike, a 14-year-old gelding; Babe, a 4-year-old mare; and Bob, a 3-year-old gelding.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • Alan’s John Deere sulky plow.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • This John Deere 2-14 plow, with two plowshares measuring 14 inches wide, is the plow he has used in his 6-horse hitches. The tongue on the plow is longer than the tongue used for hitching fewer horses. The eveners are set up for hitching three horses in front and three horses in back.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • Neck yokes on poles are designed differently. Instead of being bolted to the pole, this one slides underneath and a hook on the bottom of the very end of the pole keeps it from sliding off the pole. The thin metal rod next to the pole – the lead rod – helps equalize the eveners. The equalization ensures that each horse pulls an equal load, regardless of the speed of individual gaits. Usually a chain or loop on the tongue holds the lead rod in place, preventing the rear team from tripping over it.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • This David Bradley wood-beam plow has original paint and wood.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • A view of the David Bradley plowshare and hardware from the top.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • The square nuts used on the David Bradley plow are evidence of its age. The plowshare is marked “Bradley T21.”
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • Alan purchased this wooden 3-horse evener years ago from the late Praben Lee. He has paired it with the David Bradley plow. The hooks on the ends of the evener, where the harness tugs are secured, are a solid, curled steel riveted to the single tree, a much different style than what is seen on more “modern” hooks.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • In the late 1970s, Alan used a 6-horse Belgian hitch to plow his corn. The horses included three geldings and three mares, all of which Alan bred, raised and trained to work in the field. His John Deere 2-14 plow is shown at work here.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen

Alan Sorensen’s “field of dreams” has always been full of horses hitched to vintage implements. Part of that dream included using multi-horse hitches to plow his fields. Making that dream a reality fueled his search for just the right plow. The rest was just dumb luck.

“My John Deere sulky plow was the first one that I bought,” Alan says. “It was in the late 1970s when I was at an auction at a local farm. Down toward the barn, while I was wandering through the lines of equipment for sale, I spotted a horse-drawn plow in the trees. It was easy to see it had been there a while because a tree was growing up through it.”

After the sale, Alan approached the farmer, inquiring about the possibility of purchasing the plow.

“What do you need for it?” he asked.

“Well, if you can get it out,” the farmer answered, “I should have $10 for it.”

Plows with a reliable design

A few days later Alan – who lives near DeSmet, South Dakota – returned with a saw and a cable to pull the plow out of its longtime resting place. The farmer, watching over the entire project, told Alan he thought he had another plow, “if I can remember where it’s at.”

5/15/2020 12:08:15 PM

what is the length of the tongue for my DT 47 David Bradley Sulky Plow?

10/2/2019 9:20:57 PM

A interesting article. I just acquired my grandfather's David Bradley DT 47 Sulky Plow. It hadn't been used since about 1947 and of course has sat out in the field since. It is missing the plow share and the rear wheel disc is still frozen. Hopefully WD40 will loosen it up in time. Is there anywhere I can acquire a operators manual for it? What about parts?


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