Six-Horse Hitch

David, Andy, my sister Bev and I went to the State Fair on Sunday. I went last year with Bev and her daughter, Alicia, and the best thing we saw was the horse show. We didn’t plan to see another one, but we passed the exhibition hall just in time for the Supreme Six-Horse Hitch Showdown, so we just had to go. We told Andy and David they were in for a treat, and Andy remained unimpressed (his taste runs more to the extreme rides and bungee jumping), but David loved it.

I’m just going to post some photos I took in the horse barn during the show prep, and some others I took during the show. I wasn’t raised around horses, but the show announcer did a great job explaining a little of what we were seeing, and I’ll tell you what I remember about each picture. Gorgeous!

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Clydesdales in their performance tack.

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These are the two of the Percherons.

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This photo shows you exactly how huge these gentle giants are. We only saw Percherons and Clydesdales, there weren’t any Belgians or Shires represented at this show. There were both mares and geldings, though.

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The hitches enter the show ring and circle at a trot so the judge can see how they move together. After two or three circuits, the lead hitch circles the end of the track, then crosses diagonally down the middle of the arena so they can go the opposite direction, and all the horses have a turn to work the rail. This show had fourteen hitches. They worked in two groups of three and two groups of four, around the ring and then they lined up in in the middle so the judge could examine the entire hitch more closely. While stopped, the hitches were also asked to back up three or four steps, then move forward again.

There are two riders on each wagon, the driver, who holds the lines, and the attendant, who dismounts when the wagons stop in the middle and attends the horses. They are usually dressed to the nines in sequins and bow ties, if only to match the beautiful grooming of the horses.

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When all the teams had been judged, all fourteen hitches were invited back into the ring together. They all lined up in the middle, and the winning hitches were announced. Even the fourteenth place hitch earns points, and the points are totalled over the season as they travel from show to show.

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The man on the left is the judge, and the man on the right is the ring steward, who directs “traffic” in the show ring.

I hope I remembered everything correctly! It must cost a fortune to raise and train these horses, but I imagine the people who do it love it and would never think of doing anything else. There was a hitch all the way from Utah, and another from New Hampshire. Can you imagine driving six horses, a wagon, and all the tack and gear cross country, doing shows? It was amazing to see.

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