Plowing for the Record in Albert City

Enthusiasts work together to set new world records for horse plowing.

| April 2017

  • Teamsters participating in the horse-drawn plowing event have the opportunity to hitch their horses and set their plows just prior to the official plowing event.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • The Albert City threshing show grounds provided a fitting backdrop for the record-setting plowing event.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • In spite of muddy conditions at the Albert City threshing show in August 2016, teamsters hitched teams of two, three or more to take part in the plowing competition organized to surpass the standing Guinness world record for the largest number of horses plowing at one time in one location.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen

The horsepower that was once central to American farms drew several hundred teamsters and thousands of spectators to Albert City, Iowa, for the August 2016 Threshermen and Collectors Show. Two new world records were set at the event.

In spite of relentless downpours that muddied show grounds and repeatedly drenched visitors, show organizers executed two well-planned, once-in-a-lifetime plowing attempts featuring 120 horses and 27 mules plowing simultaneously, successfully setting new Guinness world records. Event Chairperson Kelli Kraft says she and her team describe the results of months of hard work preparing for the plowing events in one word: “incredible.”

“Everyone seemed to enjoy it, even though it was so wet and muddy,” Kelli says. “We started planning the draft horse plowing in October 2015 as a way to entertain people who were part of the wagon train during the show. We’ve had horses at the threshing show before, and every year horses are used for field events like threshing, digging potatoes and operating a pusher-header to combine wheat.”

Inspired by Aussies

Kelli credits Sue Glienke and her daughter, Cheyenne, for the idea of setting a Guinness record with horses. The original world record for plowing with horses was set in Yass, Australia, in spring 2014 with 28 horses. That record went by the wayside in 2015, when a United Kingdom group brought 84 draft horses together for a plowing event.

To qualify for a Guinness world record, a list of rules must be carefully observed. The guidelines include requirements for all the horses to simultaneously plow for at least one minute, with plows at a depth of at least 6 inches. All handlers were required to supply details about themselves, their plows and their horses. Two experienced timekeepers officiated and witnesses verified that rules were observed. The event lasted for 1 minute, 18 seconds.

“We had to apply to hold the event,” Kelli says. “It took about nine weeks for the request to be approved. Once we started promoting the draft horse plowing event, we began receiving requests from mule team owners to have a separate event for mules.”


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