Conley's Horse Photos

2017 US Draft Horse Plowing Contest


The 13th annual US Draft Horse and Mule Plowing Contest returned on October 21, 2017 to the farm of Mike and Joyce Downs in Olympia, Kentucky. There were plowers on hand from several states to compete in 7 different classes. The soil was moist and turned over very nicely. The soybean crop was combined on Wednesday afternoon and the fields were ready for practice when the first competitors arrived on Thursday. The practice fields were in heavy use throughout the day on Friday. This was followed by the competitors dinner on Friday evening up the road in Mike and Joyce's new barn. As usual, the food prepared by the employees of Bath County Extention Office was excellent. The competitors selected their plots for the competition on Saturday. Plots were split into 3 groups with each group being assigned a two hour window to plow in so that the judges, spectators and the photographer wouldn't have to run all over the grounds to see what was happening.

Saturday dawned beautiful with perfect weather for plowing. Temperatures for the day promised to top out around 75(F). Representatives of the Bluegrass Antique Machinery Association were on hand again with some of their antique tractors to do some demonstration plowing alongside of the horse plowing. Bob Stull, a friend of Mike's, was on hand with his big sound system to provide some tunes and some commentary about what was going on throughout the day. The first competitor was ready to enter their plot about 10 AM as asked and the new group assignments seemed to work well. The 3 judges (and your photographer) were able to stay in one area of the field for a few hours as the plots in that area were being plowed. I'm not sure how the competitors felt about this new wrinkle, but the judges and the photographer were quite pleased with the way it worked out. The final plot of the day was finished and the total scores were determined by about 5PM. Mike then acted as Master of Ceremonies and the awards were handed out. The coveted High Points Award again went to Mr. Mike Atkins who had won this award in 2016 and has won this award several times over the years with his outstanding team of mules. The reserve High Points Award went to Oren Perdue from Salibury Maryland. As soon as the awards ceremony was completed, many of the competitors hit the road to head home. A few, however, spent the night and attended Oren Perdue's church service on Sunday morning before they started home.

This year's event went great! It takes a lot of work to put something like this on and Mike and Joyce have been working on it for almost a year in order to get things lined up and to find sponsors, etc. Having the event at this time of year worked out well as the temperatures were perfect, the scenery was beautiful with the leaves just starting to change color, and most importantly, the ground was in almost ideal shape. I want to personally thank Mike and Joyce for their hospitality and also say that just like last year, there seemed to be a lot of folks who stated that they hoped that Mike and Joyce would be willing to host the 14th annual event next year!


Here Mike is seen practicing with his favorite team of Dick and Dan.  Unfortunately, Dan had to be put down just a few days after this event.


Click the links below to see the photos from this event!


Practice Day and Competitor's Dinner

Competition Day

Awards and Sunday Service

A DVD with a slideshow of all of the photos shown here is available for $39 including shipping. 

Individual photos are also available for purchase!  Contact us or click here for more information about ordering.


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