I love to see the big Draft horses and the Six Horse Hitch is my favorite. So on Saturday August 3 my husband and I set off to see them compete at the Canadian National Draft Horse Show. We arrived well before the class so I would have time to walk around the stabling area and see the horses being prepared.
These horses are trained to tie to the wall and stand patiently while the colored ribbons are braided into their manes.
They then have decorative pieces attached to the top of the braids.
These horses weigh in at over 2000 pounds and they stand at least 18 hh Hands High the customary measurement used for horses with a ‘hand’ being 4 inches and the height is measured at the top of the withers. So these horses are at least 6 foot high at their withers. The people who braid and groom them need to stand on step ladders!
As well as the manes, the tails are also braided up, and decorated. They cannot be long and flowing or they would get caught up in the harness.
The decorations can be quite something! Look at this Clydesdale’s tail.
As it is summer, and flies abound, the grooms were careful to apply lots of fly spray to help keep the flies from bothering the horses. Once the braiding is done the harness, which has been kept on storage racks, is taken to the horses to be put on.
For the Clydesdales ,with their white feathered legs, the legs are kept wrapped till the last moment to keep them clean.
Once unwrapped it was easy for me to see how much work had gone into these leg feathers.
The wagons were also polished and gleaming, ready to go.
Now the harness is put on and the horses are ready to be hitched up. Notice how the Belgians’ hooves have been carefully polished.
As I walked around the stabling area I saw that the crowd at the National Draft show was a very different one from the crowd at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. At the Royal there are lots of city people who come to the stabling area eager to see the big horses. Despite the many warning signs, they get very close to these big horses often pushing a stroller with a small child in it right up beside the horses. However…. as soon as one of the horses takes a step forward and the big hoof clatters on the cement floor the stroller is hastily pulled back.
But this show was all country horse people. I spoke with several of them . I told them I just had a “small” horse of only 16.1 hh. They smiled and accepted me as a horse person even though I only had a ‘small’ horse. They all were devoted to the horses and looked after every need their horses might have. A extra drink of water? A snack? No problem.
My husband and I had lunch and took our seats to watch the competition. There were nine teams ! I will be posting a separate post about the competition tomorrow. I hope you will come back to see who won! Was it the beautiful black Percherons? The Clydesdales? Or the Belgians?
I’d love to hear from you!