In its first three decades, the University of Saskatchewan was famous for its herd of draft horses.
Several of these animals had been judged best in show at international competitions. They may have been prize breeding stock, but they were also working animals.
A question that naturally arose was, what is the pulling capacity of these animals? An accurate answer was unobtainable until 1923, when Prof. E.V. Collins of Ames, Iowa, designed and built the first constant resistance dynamometer.
Although patented by Iowa State University, permission was granted “to any state or province the right to build a dynamometer as long as it was operated and the results interpreted by a person from the local agricultural college.”
In 1924 the Regina and Saskatoon Fair Boards co-operated with the U of S and built a machine of similar design.
Over the next several years the U of S Dynamometer became a popular attraction at summer fairs.
Evan Hardy, Professor of Agriculture Engineering, was the driving force behind the U of S program. He supervised the events, verified the results and retained the records, which eventually found their way into the University Archives.
The invention of the dynamometer came at the end of the age of horses. By the mid-1920s Prof. Hardy observed that good teamsters were already difficult to find.
Although few and far between, Saskatchewan breeders and drivers were among the best; the Gibbs Brothers of Lumsden held three world records in 1924 and 1925.
According to University of Saskatchewan dynamometer records, their team of Belgian Geldings that weighed 3,910 lbs. pulled 3,300 lbs. for 27.5 feet and developed 19.6 horsepower.
The following year J.M. Woods of Watrous set the Canadian record of 23 hp with a pair of Percherons.