Heavy Horse Hitching – Fall Fair Competitions Demystified Part 1

hitch-two-horse-pull

Heavy Horse Hitching competitions are something I know nothing about, except that those who participate are dedicated. Really dedicated.

You have to love driving a team of draft horse around a ring for about 15 minutes in order to transport several large draft horses and a full sized wagon big enough to move the contents of a small condo to and from one small town fall fair after another. You need a big trailer, and you need all day to prepare.

hitch-single-horse-carriage

Heavy Horse classes are categorized by the number of horses on the wagon – one to eight horses are groomed, decorated and hitched up to carefully painted wagons (usually with family names on them) and driven in circles around the arena.

Like anything big, jiggly and involving horses, the event captures my attention, but I had no idea how it was judged, nor did I understand the objective.

So, I thought I’d figure it out.

hitch-two-horse

First, a confession: I missed the Canadian Cowgirls Rodeo Drill team perform at the Fergus, Ontario agricultural fair, but instead headed to the closer Binbrook, Ontario fair (miss one fall fair, and there’s always another) on September 16, 17 and 18 near Hamilton, Ontario.

hitch-horse-mom-and-baby

I’ve seen heavy horse competitions before – usually one or two drivers take a team of two, three, four or six (sometimes eight) majestic draft horses such as Percherons, Belgians, or Clydesdales, manes and tails braided with ribbons, tack and harnesses shone,  and attach them to a western wagon once the transport truck of its day.

Teams spend hours, if not most of the day, grooming and combing manes and tails, and even fluffing powdery-feathered white legs.

At the end, wagons and horses line up for inspection. Winning ribbons are handed out on the spot, along with prizes such as grooming brushes, and the winner takes home $100 or less in prize money. Cash isn’t the motivator though larger regional events can net up to $10,000.

hitch-four-horse

So, how is it judged?

Turns out it’s simpler than I thought. Judges evaluated the horse’s physical condition, movement, manners and ability to work as a team.

The driver is judged on their ability to drive in each direction and change direction when asked. The quality of the wagon also earns points. Apparently, there’s no set standard of rules. The judge’s opinion determines the outcome.

So, apparently the winner is anyone’s guess. My money’s on the red wagon.

hitch-horse-judging

Want to learn more about Draft Horses? Check out The Book of the Draft Horse available on Amazon.

Missed some fair coverage? Read about Why Dogs Roll in That after an experience at a fall fair or Last year’s horse event coverage at the Rockton World Fair in Ontario.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click on a link above then make a purchase, horsetrotting.net receives a small commission with no extra cost to you. Cheers!

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