The Mason family has made their love of draft ponies a family affair. Rich, Jan and Chris Mason live in Early but travel all over the state to show their ponies at fairs.
The entire family helps in the production. Uncles, aunts and cousins all come and help with the whole event. Richard drives the team and unicorn hitch and his son, Chris, drives the single pony cart, the four-up and the six-up hitches.
There is plenty of fun to be had beside shows - they go on hay rides with the neighbors, give rides for birthday parties, go to towns like Lytton, Early and Odebolt for parades or to usher in Santa Claus each Christmas.
"We have enjoyed every second of having these ponies," Chris said. "If it's at the Iowa State Fair with the family down there all helping out, if it's just one or two of us giving Santa Claus rides or if it's a group of our friends and neighbors going on a hayride and having a barbecue, every bit of it is a blast."
This year, for their hometown's 125th anniversary celebration, they invited the club they belong to for a gathering of pony hitches in the parade, ending up with 10 hitches representing the group.
Chris Mason is the president of the Iowa Draft Pony Hitch association, the group responsible for shows, parade events, fun rides and organizational efforts for the draft pony events in Iowa. He says, "I would really encourage anyone with a love or interest in ponies to check our organization out. The group that we travel and show with is the best group of people one could ask for. It doesn't matter if we are at a show in Albert Lea, Minn., having a fun- drive for a member's birthday in Farnhamville, or having a meeting in Jefferson, this group always can have fun with their ponies, and fun with each other."
At the State Fair the family placed fourth for daft pony cart, third for the draft pony team, fourth place for the unicorn hitch, fifth for the four draft pony hitch, first place for the six draft pony hitch and fifth and sixth place for the draft pony hitch. At the Clay County Fair the Masons had an awesome time competing. In the halter division of four and older mares they brought home a first place and Grand Champion over all, in the team class they won a first place, In the unicorn hitch competition they won a second place. They added a first place in the four up on Saturday and in the four up and six up on Sunday they won fourth place.
If you would like more information about the Iowa Draft Pony Hitch Association, or would like more information about the Mason Pony Hitch, see www.iadpha.com.