The draft animal era is the time from the mid-1800s to the 1930s when the extensive expansion and industrialization of the United States depended on horses, mules, and oxen, and teamsters who drove them. The majority of people who use on our modern highways and are served by railroads do not realize that early roads and railroads were built using draft animals.
The use of draft animals has not ended. Indeed, while many think the use of draft horses and mules is novel, there has been increasing use in recent years. Without individuals, such as those honored by the Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame, the needed skills to use draft animals would be difficult to obtain.
The Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame is dedicated to those individuals that have made significant contributions to the preservation and dissemination of knowledge, education, and use of draft animals and or draft equipment for work or pleasure in Montana. Induction to the Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame is based on an outstanding record of contributions to the use, development, preservation, and/or education of draft animals or equipment used by draft animals.
Those honored greatly contributed to the preservation and use of draft animals and teamster skills to use them.
THE MONTANA DRAFT TEAMSTER HALL OF FAME 2016 RECEPIENT ANNOUNCED
The Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame announced their selection of Kai Christensen of Polson as their 2016 recipient. The selection was announced at the Montana Draft Horse and Mule Association spring meeting held at the Castle Mountain Ranch at White Sulphur on May 20-21.
Kai Christensen can best be described as a Teaching Teamster. While there are, and have been, many excellent teamsters in Montana, few can match Kai’s ability to teach driving to novices, work out problems, and explain what audiences witness all while going about the business of teamstering. He consistently and seamlessly teaches his craft whenever and wherever an audience or co-worker is present.
Kai has gained his skills as an attentive student. He cites Hall of Fame Member Forrest Davis as one of his early mentors. He is always seeking better ways of doing and understanding the business of using work horses in everyday ranch work.
Several years ago Kai began driving teams on wagon trains. He also started mowing and raking hay with his horses. Both of these tasks required him to learn skills of restoration of horse drawn equipment such as rakes and mowers.
About 2004 Kai became a volunteer for the annual historic haying demonstrations held at National Historic Site Grant-Kohrs Ranch at Deer Lodge. It was soon apparent to other such volunteers that Kai was the go-to person to help hitch their draft animals to buck rakes, mowers, and other haying implements. Then, about 7 years ago, when Kai retired from his work in the medical field, he was asked to take the position of handling the Ranch Horse program. Kai has since been responsible for increased use of draft animals for ranch work such as haying, log skidding, demonstrations, ranch wagon tours, and teaching.
The Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame is dedicated to those individuals that have made or continue making significant contributions to the preservation and dissemination of knowledge, education, and use of draft animals and or draft equipment for work or pleasure in Montana. Kai’s induction into the Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame is based on his outstanding record that exceeds this selection standard. His work is all the more important as it is an integral part of the National Park Service Mission of teaching and preservation.
Presentation of Kai’s award will be during the Grand Entry of the 2016 Draft Horse Expo to be held at the Powell County Fairgrounds at Deer Lodge at 5:30 pm, Saturday, July 2. The Hall of Fame is co-sponsored by the Montana Draft Horse and Mule Association and Big Sky Draft Horse Expo.
Additional information and photos of Kai Christensen and other Hall of Fame members are on display at the NPS Grant-Kohrs Ranch in Deer Lodge.
For questions about the Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame (including nominations), please contact Nick Shrauger, 406-586-5113.