A national consultant for Horse Progress Days likened the event to taking a trip to Costco.
Dale Stoltzfus, a former national board member who helped get the event going and who now serves as a consultant, explained his comparison of Horse Progress Days.
“If you will, Horse Progress Days are a lot like Costco and their food samples. When you can taste it, you know what you’re getting,” Stoltzfus said. “The idea of this event is for the farmers to actually see the equipment in operation, and think about their own operations at home and how this might effect their efficiency, profitability or those kinds of things. I think that is one of the strengths of this event from the farming perspective.”
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The 27th Horse Progress Days will be returning to the Mount Hope Auction grounds Friday and Saturday, July 2-3. Tickets are $10. Children 12 years old and younger are admitted for free with an attending adult. The annual event is held in six different Amish communities around the country.
After postponing the 2020 event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual event will be held in the heart of Holmes County, home to the world’s largest Amish community where farming is still done with horses.
Horse Progress Days is a showcase of the latest equipment innovations and hitching techniques in the draft horse industry, which includes educational seminars and clinics to guide visitors on a journey with draft animals.
“This event is designed to help you whether you are just getting started or looking for ways to broaden your knowledge,” Stoltzfus said.
Up close and personal
“You will see many different draft horse breeds, plus mules, ponies and oxen, in harness, doing what they do best,” he said. “They will be demonstrating plowing, tillage, haymaking, produce farming, logging and much more.”
Horse Progress Days features many field and produce demonstrations, how-to seminars, logging demonstrations and woodlot walks. There is a lunch break at noon.
“What I hear pretty consistently from the manufacturers who bring equipment is that they sell a lot of equipment there,” Stoltzfus said.
Professionals will be sharing valuable information from round pen training to seminars on equine and farm-related topics.
Afternoon activities include hay demonstrations which traditionally begin with mowers from small to large, to be followed by rakes and balers, bale movers and wrappers.
The breed presentation is the final activity of the day, showing many different breeds and hitch configurations: anything from a single up to a six- or eight-horse hitch.
In the round pen, demonstrations by Andrew Erb of Chestnut Ridge Morgans, Monroe Miller of Hidden View Ranch, Leon Raber of Lost Mule Co. and Joe Bowman of Bowman’s Harness will share their expertise in round training pen.
A family affair
This event is truly meant for the whole family.
“We are excited to announce our new homesteading area,” added Stoltzfus. “We will have seminars and vendors sharing educational information on projects possible on small acreage, and for children.
“The homemaker area will display a wealth of information with seminars on home health care and healthy foods,” he continued. “The children’s area will be exciting with a petting zoo, swing sets and other activities. Be sure to check out the new rope making machine in the children’s area.”
Large local impact
Mount Hope Auction President Thurman Mullet said this event is great for the Holmes County economy and Mount Hope Auction.
“There are a lot of events that bring people in, but I’m guessing this event fills a lot of hotels and restaurants, and then has to help all of the retail stores spread out through Holmes and Wayne Counties,” Mullet said. “I believe in 2014 (the last time the event was here) they estimated 32,000 people attended.
“For us, we provide the entire grounds and work with all of the committees that are in charge of different parts of Horse Progress Days,” Mullet continued. “The committees met in 2019 and were meeting throughout 2020 until they canceled.”
Mullet added that this event takes a lot of people committed together to try and make it work. To accommodate the preparation for this event, Mount Hope Auction moved its regular Wednesday sale to Tuesday of that week, giving them an extra day to prepare for the event.