Draft horse team at Fair bolts first, pulls later

The draft horse-pulling contest at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society Fair scaled new heights of excitement Friday when a two-horse team decided it was time to leave.

“As happens in any event, but not often, there are equipment failures, and it simply was that one of the bits became unhooked and spooked the horse,” master of ceremonies Paul “Zeke” Wilkins told The Times in a phone conversation Friday afternoon. “Obviously, the heavy haulers that they are, they just don’t stop on command. They were in the middle of a pulling, so they just took off like a bolt of lightning.

“But with the efforts of Ag Hall personnel and the safety fence at the end,” he added, “there was no one standing down there, and it all turned out to be a good stop.”

Mr. Wilkins said there were some oohs and aahs from the crowd, but no people or horses were injured, and everyone recovered quickly.

“We hardly skipped a beat, and the team came in ten minutes later and pulled for a second-place prize, I believe,” he said.

Neither Mr. Wilkins nor personnel contacted in the Fair office had information available by press time about where the horses were from or their owner’s name.

Mr. Wilkins praised a Tri-Town ambulance crew stationed on the fairgrounds for responding immediately after the horses bolted to make sure no one was injured.

“We’re very fortunate to have those folks, and I think the foresight of the people who run the fair in having them here is a wonderful thing,” he said.