The annual Horse Progress Days event was held in Mt. Hope, Ohio today. This is quite an event with thousands of people from all over the U.S. and even foreign countries in attendance. I got there this morning around 11am and the place was already jam packed with people. The weather was mid-70’s with low humidity, couldn’t have been any better. This was my first time at this show and I must say it is very impressive; especially the innovative farming equipment that they are designing and building today. It’s come a long way since my grandpa did farming, even if they’re still using horses.
The purpose of Horse Progress Days is to showcase the complete line-up of the latest equipment innovations and hitching techniques in the Draft Horse Industry. There are educational seminars and clinics to guide attendees on thier journey with Draft Animals, whether they are just getting started or are looking for ways to broaden their knowledge. There are many different Draft Horse breeds, plus mules, ponies, and oxen; in harness, doing what they do best. Attendees will see hitches from one to twelve demonstrating plowing, tillage, haymaking, produce farming, logging, and more.
At noon I headed on over to the “International” arena. The host introduced guests that came from many countries to attend the show. Nations with delegations included France, Germany, The Netherlands, Canada, Great Britain, Uganda, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Venezuela. Also present was a friend of mine, Melissa Herman, who attended the event with her dad, Bill Herman. Melissa is a soil scientist from Wayne County Ohio, but she is currently living in Kenya, Africa working with farmers to improve their agricultural programs. She’s been there for several years working with ‘The Reckoning International’. I met with Melissa, and a guest from Uganda that she met, and asked her a few questions about her work in Kenya. Here is a transcript of our conversation:
JD: Melissa, what did you get out of the international session today? What did you come to learn?
Melissa: Kenyan farmers are doing everything mostly by hand and Uganda is the same way. It’s very labor intensive so my goal was to come and learn the basics of field and tillage equipment so we can take the basic designs back to Keyna, back to Uganda, and begin to make some equipment that can be used over there to increase efficiency and mechanization.
JD: So it’s not so much to get equipment here to take over. It’s to learn the design to be able to manufacture equipment in Kenya and Uganda.
Melissa: Yes, there are blacksmiths. There are people who know how to work with metal and work with welding. So it’s more taking the concepts and design to them to inspire them and they can figure out how to make it.
JD: Is this your first Horse Progress Days?
Melissa: I have been here once before, the last time it was in Mt. Hope.
JD: What kind of animals do you have to work the fields in Kenya and Uganda?
Melissa: Mostly oxen and donkeys. Even the oxen, they are a smaller animal than what we have here in the U.S. They are more like a strong, meaty cow that can pull the plow. I’m hoping to get even smaller equipment that works with donkeys. A lot of the agriculture is done by women. In their culture, in their gender roles, the plowing and the field work is done by men. A lot of the other agriculture is done by the women. So I’m hoping by getting small, really light equipment that can work with donkeys that would be a whole system that the women could take advantage of.
JD: Thanks much for sharing with us.