Iowa Draft Horses and Mules

Gail Hembry Memorial Award
Top Teamster
Iowa State Fair Horse Pull

South Central Iowa Draft Horse & Mule Association


Gail Hembry was a horse puller and the superintendent of the horse pull at the Iowa State Fair for many years. Gail was a long time member of the South Central Iowa Draft Horse & Mule association. Our club decided to cherish his memory by sponsoring an award for the sport he truly loved.

The Gail Hembry Memorial, “Top Teamster” award will be given to the competitor that exhibits outstanding horsemanship, sportsmanship, and showmanship as voted upon by a committee of our club.

Horse Pulling Competition in Iowa:

“Horse Pulling” competition has been around a long time. Nobody knows where or when the first “contest” was held but you can be sure that it originated long ago with one horseman stating that his horse can pull more weight than his neighbor’s horse. In order to prove it, there needed to be an organized event and of course the word spread about it and other people would come observe and congratulate the winner.

Since that first “unknown” horse pulling contest, the sport of horse pulling has come a long way. Of course, now there are rules, regulations, associations, national rankings, etc. Even though there are several “Horse Pullers” in Iowa and several “Horse Pulling” events in Iowa, we do not have an Iowa Horse Pulling Association.    

Conditioning: Conditioning  a horse to prepare for a pulling event is similar to a weight lifter training for competition. A draft horse must be "conditioned" to pull a heavy load a short distance rather than conditioning to pull a lighter load a longer distance over a longer period of time, like doing farm work with a team. If a horse is properly conditioned, pulling a heavy load is not harmful to them. - it is what a draft horse was meant to do. 

Harness/collars: A properly fitting collar and harness is very important for any draft animal pulling a load. "Pullers" need to be certain that the collar and harness are an exact fit for each horse entered in competition. If not, the horse could end up with sore shoulders and it would affect their performance in their current and/or next competition. There are also collars and harness made specifically for the sport of "Horse Pulling".

Eveners: The eveners used in the sport are also different than you would use with a team of horses working on the farm. Some of these "puller eveners" allow adjustments for the load to be pulled evenly when the teamster knows that one horse of his or her team will out-pull the other. The goal is for the "team" to work together, pull swiftly, straight, etc. and not all teams pull the same due to the strength, training and experience of each horse.    

There are several organized “Horse Pulling” events in Iowa each year and they are listed on the "Events" page. There is also a link to a “Horse Pullers” web site on the “Links” page. This is a very comprehensive web site with information on all Horse Pulling associations in the US, rules and regulations, events, results, contact information, etc.

You can find more information on Horse Pulling competition including "The largest selection of horse pulling results on the internet" at the following link : Send comments and/or questions about this website to: