I’ve heard of monster trucks. But what about monster hitches? “Big Hitches” are part of rural history. Farmers with large tracts of land often used multiple horses or mules. In fact, the first equalizing hitch (like the one we use on our trailers today) was designed in the 1900s by Buster Talkington to ensure that each horse on a team pulls an equal share of the load.
Enter Neil Dimmock of Mundare Alberta. Mr. Dimmock still uses horse power, Percherons, to be exact. He had too much land to be farmed by a two-horse hitch and his grandfather told him that his ancestors on both sides of his family had farmed with “big hitches”. This piqued his interest.
Dimmock read about the Talkington equalizer hitch and found several original parts, but not a complete set. Using a diagram of the original hitch, he built his own so he could start farming his land with a 12-horse hitch.
According to an article RFD-TV states:
Neil is the only person in his area to farm with more than eight horses in a single hitch. In 1999 he was asked to drive a 30- horse hitch for a local celebration. He had so much fun he expanded his equalizing hitch to 18 horses, then 26, then 32. At that point he decided to try for a Guinness record driving the world’s largest Percheron agricultural hitch.
The biggest agricultural hitch Neil could find consisted of 44 horses pulling a combine during the heyday
of big agricultural hitches. The largest Percheron hitch he found was 40 put together by Barnum and Bailey of circus fame. With assistance from members of the local Draft Horse Agricultural Society, Neil put together a 46-Percheron hitch and used it to pull a 26- foot deep tillage cultivator built by Ezee-On Manufacturing of Vegreville, Alberta. The implement is designed for a tractor with at least 130 horsepower.
Some of the horses had never been used in a big hitch, so first they were given experience working in a 20-horse hitch. The next day Neil added two 12-horse equalizing hitches for a total of 44. On day three he added two horses to one of the 12-horse hitches, and drove 46 Percherons.
The smallest horse in the outfit was a mare called Bob, weighing 1,500 pounds and standing 15 hands high (one hand = 4 inches). The largest was a gelding named Roy, weighing 2,400 pounds and standing 18 hands. The youngest was a 2-year-old unnamed filly; the oldest 24-year-old gelding Bannick.
Neil drove from a two-bench forecart he made, with the seats 8-feet up so he could see all the horses in the hitch. The length of the hitch from the back of the cultivator to the lead horses was 160 feet. The distance from the lead horses’ mouths to Neil’s hands was 130 feet. The clevis attaching the back of the forecart on a cable to the cultivator was strong enough for 20 tons.
That is one long train of horses! Even more amazing is that Dimmock wrote in response to the YouTube video that it took only 20 minutes to hitch them up. It takes me that long just to tack up one horse.