A couple of weeks ago, a group of people and their animals traveled all the way from Maine to spend several days at the Kentucky Horse Park, doing demos, interacting with Horse Park visitors, and even pulling the park’s trolley (um, that was the animals, not the people).

On one of their rehearsal days, I walked over to where they would be doing all their demonstrations and was lucky enough to see all eight pairs of oxen — sixteen total — hitched to the enormous set of logging wheels that had been delivered to the Horse Park back in September. That was quite a sight, I must say (but, sadly, I had walked out of the office without my camera).

I went back later in the week to see several of the teams hanging out with Horse Park visitors and doing some plowing demonstrations.

And what did I (and others) learn about oxen?

Oxen start their lives as “working cattle” — young steers (neutered males), which are handled and trained from their earliest days. When they’re four years old, these working cattle are considered oxen.

Oxen can be almost any breed (or cross) and size of cattle. The spotted ones you’ll see below are Ayrshire.

When they’re pulling a load (such as the cart or the sled shown below), the pole goes through the ring hanging from the bottom of the yoke, and a pin helps to hold the pole in place. 

I hope you enjoy the photos of these beautiful animals.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.