Horse Progress Days (HPD) is an Amish-organized affair that will take place July 1 and 2 in Middlebury, Ind. It features demonstrations of practical applications of draft animals in today's society. Many breeds of heavy horses, mules and even oxen are featured, performing traditional tasks with modern equipment.
Though it has been going on for more than a decade, HPD is perhaps one of the United States' best-kept secrets. In 1993, Elmer Lapp introduced the first event in Lancaster, Pa. Eleven years after its first appearance, HPD is still going strong, alternating its location among states with sizable Amish communities. As many as 10,000 visitors annually come to see and learn about ways of farming and logging that touch the Earth lightly. Fields and croplands surround the vendor site, and various pieces of agricultural and timber-harvesting equipment are put to use.
U.S. and European breeds on display include Belgians, Percherons, Suffolks, American Creams, Haflingers, Fjordhorses, Spotted Drafts, Draft Ponies, Shires, Clydesdales, miniature horses, assorted mules and oxen.
Vendors offer everything from books to horse-shoeing stocks, and noted authorities on many subjects give lectures and clinics. Vets talk about breeding, feeding and other health concerns. The clinic on conformation judging is the place to learn the difference between a "good" horse and a "bad" one.
For links to lodging and maps, or to learn more about Horse Progress Days 2004, visit www.ruralheritage.com/progress .