The Extraordinary Race Between the Horse and the Pig


Well, it was considered extraordinary in those days . . .

William H. Sanders
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Everyone knows about the race between the Hare and the Tortoise. Another strange race took place between a horse and a pig. This was not a fable, however. 

This race happened in New Hampshire many years ago at a time when horses and wagons were the only way to get about the countryside. Nearly every farmer was raising colts, and any colt broken to harness and wagon would bring $100. Two-wheeled carts came into use because they were good for breaking the colts, should they shy to the side or suddenly decide to go in reverse. Naturally, much attention was given to the horses that could get about in “quick time.” A “fast one” would bring real money, sometimes even $500. Some farmers did little else but talk, buy, and sell horses.

Sam Dana seemed to do little else but break colts and talk trotting horses. He was really successful with the colts. He would break a 2-year-old that was “halter handy,” and in 2 weeks he was driving it around like a well-trained horse. He picked up considerable cash money this way. With him, it was horses, horses all the time. Seemed to be his only business.

He had figured out how many feet a trotter would advance per second at given speeds. Sam just had a way with horses.


Farmer Colby got fed up with all of this talk and said, “Look here, Sam. I have a Yorkshire pig at my place that can beat any trotter you have on a half-mile stretch. Here’s a $10 bill to back it up.” 

The stipulations were that the horse had to maintain a trot and that the place was to be measured half a mile out from Colby’s farm, with the finish line at the farm. Colby was to have 2 weeks to train his pig. The race was set for 10:00 a.m. There was laughter and joking around the cracker barrel, but Colby had no trouble in taking on a few side bets at high odds. Few folks seemed to know the speed that a half-grown pig could get up.

To train the pig, Colby put it in a crate on a “stoneboat,” a low wooden sled used to pull large stones. Colby’s son, with a horse, pulled the pig up to the starting place each day at 10:00 a.m., before the pig had been fed. He was squealing hungry and let it be known on his ride to the starting point. Colby let the pig out and, with a switch, hustled his racer right along the home course. At the end, in the feeding trough of his pen, the pig found six ears of yellow corn.

On the second day, Colby had trouble keeping up with his porker. The third day, the pig shot out of the crate when released and went down the road like a white streak. He was after his 100 percent–golden corn!

From then on, Colby stationed himself along the course to see if the pig maintained his speed. He found that the White Yorkshire kept his running pace until he got to the corn. 

The Day of the Race

On the day of the race, excitement ran high and the whole countryside seemed to be there, lining the roadsides. Two judges were agreed upon, one at the start and one at the finish. Colby stayed at the finish line.

As planned, at 10:00 a.m., the starter judge shouted, “Go!” It was a standing start for both. The young Colby boy swung the crate door wide. The pig went forth like a white flash. The horse was so upset it broke into a running start and a little time was lost to get him back to a trot. Twice Sam Dana got his horse up to the pig, but each time he broke into a run when attempting to pass. The pounding of hoofs and rattle of wheels had no effect on the pig. Only the golden corn and a belated breakfast was on its mind.

Colby’s porker came over the line with 30 feet to spare. There was lots of joking, debts were paid, and it was called a day. Or a pig tale.

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Under the guiding hand of its first editor, Robert B. Thomas, the premiere issue of The Old Farmer’s Almanac was published in 1792. Read More from The Editors

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