An Extreme View

*We here in Michigan hope and pray that everyone further east of us is making or made it through Hurricane Sandy unscathed.  We’re getting a small sampling of your winds right now – The Weather Channel people call it “remnants of Hurricane Sandy”.  Through the night we had wind gusts up to 50mph here on the Lake Huron shoreline.  It was loud.  It’ll be good and windy, 35 – 45mph until late today.  Power outages are possible with all the falling branches and trees.  And to think this is nothing compared to what you all had to deal with!   Be well.  ~d.


Hi.  This is Extreme.  You saw me in the previous post but you haven’t officially met me yet through the “Horses of Glenview” series. So here’s the thing, Dee’s never done this before and she likely won’t ever again but for this one time I’m going to narrate the photo’s she’s chosen for this post from the Great Lakes Draft Horse show in Lansing. 

That’s me in the left wheel position in the picture above.  Jake and Dee, having just arrived from the farm, were parking their rig when we were coming back from the show arena.  Jake was sprinting from the truck to catch a ride on the wagon back to the barns.  That boy Jake isn’t half bad so Ben and I didn’t mind slowing down to let him hop on.



These are the beautiful ribbons they hand out after the judge (or depending on the class, up to three judges at once) have decided they’ve seen us “strut our stuff” walk and trot around the arena enough.



This is me, in the Supreme Halter Class.  All horses that received a first place their age specific breed class (Percheron, Belgian, etc.) were qualified to take part in this prestigious class. 



Halter class is judged on how well we are structurally put together (our conformation), how correct we move, if we have desirable markings indicative or our breed, etc. and blah, blah.



Basically, it’s like a beauty contest without the talent part.  If they’d let me do my new found talent, I just might be able to win this best of the best class.  Oh well. 



What’s my new found talent?  Can’t tell you.  Dee doesn’t want me to say as she’d like to get it on video, it’s much cooler, or so she says than trying to explain it.  Though for some of you, with a one word hint, you’d know exactly what I’ve taught myself to do.



These were the three judges for the show.  For all the Championship classes (hitch classes included) and the Supreme halter class, these guys decided on a winner…otherwise, it was just one judge per class.



This is what halter classes look like to most people after one too many hours of watching it.



Not Dee though.  She says she’s always loved halter class. 

Oh, the sexy Clyde mare next to me in the shot above?  She won it, got the “Best of Show” she did.  Everyone said she was perfect.  I thought so too.  Too bad I didn’t think to get her number.





I was told that this picture of a gorgeous Percheron mare who had just come out of her halter class has nothing to do with anything other than Dee liked the way it turned out.  She said, “At times the light was incredible outside, so much better than inside the barns and arena”.  The light?  Okay.  All I know is we didn’t get rained on going to and from the arena.  To me that was incredible, it being fall and all.  I don’t really care for rain.



Dee did an awful lot of watching (a relatively new experience for her) from the rail (and the sidelines) and rather liked it very much.  She tells me she was very happy to have a “job” in trying to capture the show through her lens. 

The following are some of the behind the scenes images of what it takes to get ready for the show ring…



The crew putting our PJ’s blankets on for the night.  This keeps our hair slicked down and the dust off more than for a “warmth” reason.



Most everyone does the ‘blanket thing”.  This is our Belgian neighbors stalled next-door to us getting theirs on.



Baths are given to us first thing in the mornings and we’re rinsed off if we require it after classes. 

In preparation for the hitch (driving) classes we are taken out of our stalls and vacuumed, brushed, braided and have the feathers on our legs “saw-dusted” and baby powdered before we don any of our show harness. 



Harley, Jacob and Chief are shown above being prepped for the Unicorn Hitch class.  You’ll see pictures of that class later on.  Because it’s always been Dee’s favorite class she got plenty shots of it.  Plenty.



Our Clyde neighbors a few aisles up from us getting the baby powder treatment. 

The Clydesdale and Shire draft horse breeds have saw dust rubbed up through their wet, freshly shampooed legs mostly to fluff it and facilitate drying.  They also use sawdust on dry legs as well as good ol’ baby powder.  This makes the feathers (all that long floofy hair) on our legs super white and really fluffy.  The judges really seem to like the fluff factor. (This goes for the Shire breed too).



The Belgian and Percheron folks however do the exact opposite.  They carefully wrap legs to get what little hair they do have to lay down flat.  The flatter the better.  So, on Clydesdales and Shires they fluff and Belgians and Percherons they wrap to flatten.  Okay?  Good.  Wait.  The Belgian folks do use baby powder to whiten but then it’s not for fluffing at that point it’s strictly for lightening a white leg or two.  Hope you’re still with me here.




Braiding up a tail.  All draft horse tails are braided in some fashion or another.  They say it’s to show off our powerful hindquarters, which of course we are well known for.  You see, as a draft horse, it’s totally fine to have a large derrière, I know!  Nice right?



Mane and forelock being braided.



Forelocks are a three plait braid and the manes are a four. 



Braiding the mane and adding mane decorations gives the appearance of a nice long neck.  Plus, it gives the exhibitors a chance to incorporate their chosen farm or “show” colors.  Our colors are obviously green, white and black.



99.9% of the draft horse show people do this exact four-plait braid.  As I understand it, it’s tradition and when done good and snug stays in really well, which is pretty important.

On a side note the braiding deal can be uncomfortable for some newbies.  Horses that is.   It’s kinda itchy at first and feels funny.  But, after a few times of having this done a horse gets used to it.



Not only is there a wide array of colors, as seen with this dapple grey Percheron outfit being dressed in their red and white, but the mane/forelock braiding material will vary, as will the choice of mane decoration types.



Some show people use various colored, plastic single-rose type “flowers” as mane decorations, though I think the most popular right now are the foil-type fans.



Chief, one of the lead horses in our hitch, sporting his “chrome” foil fans.



Okay, so after the grooming and braiding they start harnessing us and that begins with the collar.  At which point, one of the crew will come along and insert those mane decorations/flowers.



The next piece of harness is the back-pad, then spider or britchen depending on where in the hitch you’re hooked, then the traces or tugs. 



Harley, when Dee said, “Say ‘Cheese’ Harley” he evidently did.

Next to last the lines go on.  Some say “reins” but in draft horse hitching it’s most always referred to as lines.  Then very last, right before we go to the wagon or sometimes to the two-wheeled show cart, the bridle gets put on us.



Then it’s stand and wait, but not for long.  This is the precise reason why Todd doesn’t have the bridles put on us until we’ve got mere minutes before needing to go out and get hitched to the wagon.  He knows we know.  He knows that we know that he knows that we know that…Uh yah, we just get kinda excited and don’t stand well for very long once we get our bridles on. 



Harley, on his way out to the show wagon. 

And this my friends, is where the pictures end…for now.


23 thoughts on “An Extreme View

  1. Wow. I never knew there was SOO much involved in one of these competitions. Extreme, you did a great job narrating all Dee’s pictures. And you are one handsome horse!
    (Great pictures, Dee. Thanks for taking us along!)


      1. Know what you mean you miss the whole thing and the people but being on the road and the rush wears thin after time. Thanks for all your photos.


  2. Just wait ’til my Anna hears I read a blog post written by a horse! She’ll love it. All this preparatory stuff reminds me of computer games my daughters used to play, wherein they’d doll up the horseys with as many flowers and ruffles and scarves and so forth as they could, until the horses could barely stand under the weight. It was great fun. I’m still kicking myself for not getting over there for the shows…


    1. I hope she likes it Sid.
      The whole ‘flowers, scarfs and ruffles’ thing?? Made me laugh out loud. I can see the similarities for sure!
      First show next year for Glenview is near you. Hope you all can go to that one. I believe they call it “Mason”, course that’s more than likely not its official name. I’ll ask Todd if he knows the dates of that one yet.


  3. Goodmorning Friend……..

    Thank YOU sooooooooo much for the wonderful photos and all of the great narration on HORSES!!!!!!!!

    I miss them……………you know where I live!!!!!!!!! ha, ha, ha

    Yes, the storm……yikes…….I am very grateful all you have there is the wind!!!!!!!! Yikes!!!!!!!

    If you lived here this fall you would be WET!!!! We have been pounded with heavy rain…..we had a dry summer

    and now a very wet fall.

    Thank YOU for thinking of me……..I really do love your great photos.


  4. They are stunning. I miss those big draft breeds. We used to feed hay to cattle using teams of Belgians. Not many people use teams anymore, but I still think they are the best way. It’s quiet except for the sound of the harness and wagon. You have someone to talk to. No diesel fumes. And if you get stuck in a snow drift, just unhitch and ride home on a nice, warm back. Can’t do that with a tractor.


    1. You used to feed with horses too?! In Idaho, when I still lived at home, we used our Belgian show horses in the hay fields in the summer and fed cattle with in the winter so I know exactly what you’re talking about…so much better than tractors AND they always start! ;) I bet you do miss them…I sure would.


  5. What totally wonderful photos and of course fabulous narration by Extreme! This may sound sappy but I got a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye seeing the incredible beauty and form and gentle strength of all the horses – especially yours (!)…..there’s something about a gorgeous horse that “gets” to me. There is an incredible amount of work that goes into showing them and I guess a lot of patience on EVERYONE’s part but gosh – it just takes my breath away! Thanks for sharing…..I almost but not quite felt like I was there……..

    Hugs, Pam


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