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Horse Sense: Participants excited to learn old ways in a new light

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ST. IGNATIUS — The idea for Horse Progress Days was born when Marvin Troyer, a long-time horseman and wagon restoration expert, saw an abundance of horses in the Mission Valley not being used to their full potential. 

With this in mind, Troyer created Horse Progress Days: an educational driving-camp of sorts, offering demonstrations on horseshoeing, harnessing, hitching, plowing and more. 

Last weekend, the first-annual event kicked off in style with hundreds of residents wandering Troyer’s property, taking in the sights and enjoying numerous demonstrations put on by seasoned horsemen and vendors alike. 

“I’m really tickled with the turnout,” Troyer said. “Without the community and without people helping, this would not be possible.” 

Troyer said he was excited to see how the day turned out. Judging by the number of attendees, the level of excitement, enthusiasm and positive outlook of the event participants, it was a success. 

“It seems everybody we talk to is excited about it,” Troyer said. “I’ve had a ton of people asking when the next one will be. We’re hoping to turn this thing into a two-day event in the future. It’s been working out great with lots of people coming in, good food and, yea, I’m excited to say the least.”

On one end of the grounds, Cam Lytle gave a horse shoeing demonstration, talking curious observers through every step of the process and answering questions as he went. Behind him, laughing and smiling children rode in covered wagons around the property, jumped on a trampoline, played with puppies and ran between horses and adults alike. 

On the other side of the property, Jonathan Hostetler drove a plow behind a team of horses as several Pioneer Equipment representatives were on hand to answer questions. Pioneer Equipment Incorporated is the largest horse-drawn farm equipment manufacturer in the United States, and local resident Bruce McMillan said he’d attended the event specifically for their expertise and equipment. 

“I came here to get some ideas. I have saddle horses and I wanted to start driving them, so I came down here to look at the equipment and get some information I was kind of shy on,” McMillan said. “This company, Pioneer, they make amazing stuff that has not been available to the general public for a long time. It’s technology added to old ideas, and that’s what makes it much more doable.”

McMillian said he’d already spoken to a few people about harnessing, hooking and breaking horses, gaining a good deal of knowledge and ideas in the process. Like so many other participants, he hopes Horse Progress Days will become an annual event. 

“I hope people interested in horses come down because it puts a whole new spin on horses. Most horses around here don’t get used enough,” he said. 


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