Historic Big Hitch of horses to ride again in Calgary Stampede Parade

Retracing the tracks of record-breaking horse and wagon hitch
WATCH: In 1925, an Alberta man broke the world record for the longest hitch — 36 horses pulling 10 wagons of grain. Today, a group of modern-day cowboys are paying homage to this time in history. Reid Fiest has the story.

Albertans call it the Big Hitch and when you see it, it’s easy to understand why.

Crews hooked up 30 Percheron horses to eight wagons Monday, all under the control of just one man: Neil Dimmock.

“This is the semi truck of today,” Dimmock told Global News in Strathmore, Alta.

“Back then (in the 1920s) if you wanted to move large and bulk items, you used many horses and many wagons.”

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Big Hitch
Slim Moorehouse’s Big Hitch in 1925 Calgary Stampede Parade with 36 horses and ten wagons. Joan Riise

Dimmock and his volunteer crew are now trying to re-create history with the animals.

In 1925, Slim Moorehouse made history driving a hitch of 36 horses and 10 wagons in the Calgary Stampede Parade.

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The horseman broke a world record for the ride.

Moorehouse passed away in 1981, at the age of 71, but his daughter, Joan Riise, says he’d love that his work was being honoured.

“I think he’d think it was great.I really think he would,” Riise said. “Mind you he’d want to get up there himself and show them how it’s done,” she laughed.

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Big Hitch
Slim Moorehouse, in a photo provided by his daughter, Joan Riise. Joan Riise

The hitch is attracting a lot of attention, not just in Alberta.

Billy Wilson travelled from his home in Texas to volunteer with the crew.

“To put this many animals in a hitch and be able to control them by one man is amazing to me.”

Even farm-raised Albertans like Sharon Lashmar agree.

“We used teams as kids, but you only had two or four (horses) hooked up…but to have more than two or four hooked up is pretty unique.”

The roughly 100-kilometre journey from Gleichen, Alta. began July 2. By Thursday the group will be in Calgary to help recreate what Moorehouse accomplished in the ‘20s, and ride in the Stampede Parade.

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Originally Dimmock wanted a hitch of the same size as Moorehouse, but due to a shortage of horses and restrictions on Calgary’s downtown streets, his hitch will be shortened to 20 horses and five wagons.

The Calgary Stampede says it’s thrilled to welcome the Big Hitch, but also wants to ensure the safety of the horses, its other entries and the spectators lining the parade route.

“In my opinion you’re more in danger from being struck by a band going by playing music than one of my horses,” Dimmock said.

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He’s simply happy that new generations of Canadians can see one way this country was built.

“It’s draft horse history, it’s Alberta history, it’s farming history.”