The Six Horse Hitch! I am a big fan of the six horse hitch and it was a beautiful sunny day, not too hot and with a bit of a breeze. The horses were harnessed and came in to the ring three teams at a time. With a total of nine teams competing they could not all come in together. The lead horses are the fanciest movers and the horses nearest to the wagon, the wheel horses, are the powerful pullers.
The three teams would go round the ring and the judge would look at how they moved and worked together. The Drafts are calm horses but the lead horses knew they were at a show!
The teams go in one direction and then are asked to change direction . The Ring Master tells them which team should go first across the diagonal to change direction. Once the judge has seen enough of them moving they are asked to line up. Then they have to rein back a few steps. My husband who had struck up a conversation with an ‘old timer’ learned that this rein back was a more recent American thing. Seems the Canadians did not ask for this previously but now it is routine. I can tell you that just by observing this it is not a simple matter to rein back a team of six horses.
And if you thought riding with a double bridle with two reins was tricky how about three reins in each hand. Each of the reins, top, middle and bottom are attached to the horses in the lead, middle and wheel positions. It is quite a handful.
Once all nine teams had come in and been seen by the judge they all waited in an adjoining arena. All 54 horses and wagons were lined up and waiting for the judge to decide if there were any he wanted to see again. Can you imagine 54 Warmblood horses standing and waiting patiently like this?
Then the announcement was made. The Judge wanted three teams back in again. Clydesdale, Percheron and Belgian. They all went round again and then lined up while the judge took a very careful look.
The ‘old timer’ sitting next to my husband gave him what he thought would be the final standings of these three teams. Would he be right? The Judge walked over to the announcers stand and passed his paper to the announcer.
And the winner is…….the Clydesdale Team of Carson Farm. The lead horses looked very happy with their first place ribbon.
Second place was the Belgian Team of Willowdale Farm and third Glencal Farm’s Percherons. My husband’s new friend told him the Clydesdales had been Canadian Champions last year . They took a lap of honor.
I would like to congratulate all of the nine teams who took part in the Six Horse Hitch. The work involved in the training and the show preparation is enormous and it was a real treat to see them all .