Conley's Horse Photos

2023 US Draft Horse and Mule

Plowing Contest


The 2023 US Draft Horse and Mule Plowing Contest was held on Saturday October 21st this year. Although Mike and Joyce Downs had both faced some serious health challenges this year, they still hosted the event at their farm in Olympia, Kentucky. This is the 7th year that the event was held there. Unlike last year, conditions at the start of the weekend were challenging. There was 9/10's of an inch of rain starting on Thursday night and continuing through much of the day on Friday. Friday's scheduled practice was washed out and no one got to test the conditions. The rain was sorely needed in this area and, as Mike predicted, by Saturday morning most of it had soaked in and the condition of the fields was very good. The soybeans had been harvested off of the fields earlier in the week and due to improvements in the harvesting equipment, the bean straw did not prove to be the big problem it had in the past. As usual for this event, a 3 judge panel was employed to judge the classes. Judges had 10 categories to judge and gave each contestant up to 10 points in each category. A total of up to 300 points (100 per judge) were available to each contestant in a class with the highest point total in each class becoming the class winner. The contestant with the highest point total across all classes is then declared the High Points Winner. As I said last year, it feels like I'm repeating old news as the high points winner again this year was Mike Atkins from eastern Ohio. Mike has made a career out of winning this honor many times over the life of this event. Mike also announced that he was dedicating his class win to his good friend Oren Purdue from Maryland who was unable to attend this year due to family illness. As has become her habit, Doris Mosher from Ohio again awarded special halters and/or lead ropes to both the class winners and the runners up to show her appreciation for the camaraderie and the sportsmanship that this event epitomizes. Doris no longer competes herself, but acts as swamper for her son Chris. The youngest competitor this year was the 5 year old son of Rod and Megan Pattison from West Virginia who teamed up with his dad who drove the team for him while he handled the plow. Again this year, there was a contingent of students from Berea College in attendance along with their faculty advisor. They tried their hand at plowing which is something their program doesn't normally include as they concentrate more on sustainable forestry using horses. They competed in the Novice Class.

The group expressed a heartfelt thank you to Mike and Joyce Downs for again hosting this event. It takes a lot of work to put something like this on and with help from several of their neighbors, everything went very smoothly. We ask that you add Mike and Joyce to your prayer list as Joyce is going in for another knee replacement surgery on the 7th of November and Mike is still on a chemotherapy regimen for his lung cancer. Despite these handicaps, Mike announced that it is their intention to again host this event next year, God willing and the creek don't rise!



Click the links below to see photos from this event!

Friday Prep and Dinner ...

Competition and Awards Day

A DVD with a slideshow of all of the photos displayed for this event is available for $35 including shipping. 

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


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