View From The Rail


Would it be terribly annoying if I said, “I don’t know how much you guys can stomach me sharing draft horse show photos”.  I had a lot of time on my hands so I took more pictures than I ever have in a three day period.  Ever.  There will be one more post after this one because I’m going to break this entry up just so you guys don’t fall asleep and smack your head on your key board or break your iPad.

As seen above, sometimes my boy stood with me along the rail…at least when Glenview was in the arena.  That was pretty cool to me because I never imagined my tractor/truck/motor loving kid would be remotely interested in horse shows.  Like ever.  One’s offspring doesn’t normally want anything to do with what their parents have done or do.  But then, he’s not normal – one look at his parents gives that away.



It was nice too to see my husband drive eight around an arena again.  I have always loved how he uses the entire show ring, making a beautiful bend with each set of horses in the hitch of eight, digging into all four corners of it thereby using all the real estate.



I think he does a dang fine job of it too, especially when I think back to when I first started dating him twenty-five years ago and he could “kinda” drive my families four.  In all fairness, those horses of ours didn’t know his voice like they did mine so that didn’t exactly help matters.  However, these eight horses here, they know him.  They know him well and it shows.  I know I’m pretty proud of him and all he can do. 

Something just occurred to me.  There’s a “handful” of people in the world that can fly a jumbo jet, that can drive race cars, that can operate a freight train and there’s a handful of people that can drive an eight.  Pretty cool in ways I used to take for granted.

I also know that from the time I was about sixteen, the Unicorn Hitch class has always been my ultimate favorite.  One of the obvious reasons to me why I’m so drawn to it is because it’s a tough class to drive.  The lead horse, who typically is accustomed to having a buddy beside him is out there all by himself in the lead and that buggar if he or she takes a notion to can flip around on you in a heart beat.  {Ssssnap}  That fast.  And you find yourself in a big bad knot hoping you have a fearless shotgun rider or header on the ground to save your behind.  Of course as a driver you hope this no matter what configuration you’re driving because no matter how well trained they are they’re still animals, a flight animal no less and “stuff” happens.



But it was more than the challenge of it.  In my adult years, I made an interesting discovery and I know some of you already know this…I learned that groupings of odd numbers of things, like groups of three (or thirds), groups of five or groupings of seven, etc. were artistically eye pleasing.  It explained perfectly why I probably was so drawn to the Unicorn class, it was visually appealing to the human eye.  This also explains why, I believe anyway, the Six-horse hitches photograph better than the eight or four.  (From the side you see odd numbers.)  I think it’s why we use an odd number of mane decorations in their mane too….it’s visually more appealing than an even number. 

Give it a try…Look around at plant placement in landscaping, decorating the inside of your home or architecture in general and you’ll see what I mean. 

Alight, enough of my rambling and neurosis…

Picking up from my last post and the collection of preparation pictures, here are my “Unicorn Class” shots start to finish:



Harley, Jacob and Chief headed out to the wagon.



View from the driver’s seat while the lines are being strung and they’re being hooked to the wagon.



“Headers” getting a ride to the arena from the barn/hitching area.

*Headers are people who can “grab horse heads” or assist in whatever else a driver might require so he or she doesn’t have to get off the wagon.  FYI:  At home and especially at a show or parade, when a driver needs to get down, a header is present at least at the lead team in the form of that assistant getting down or a header already on the ground.  It’s ALL ABOUT safety when you are handling driving horses, draft or otherwise.  (You’ll see this apparent and inadvertently in a lot of the pictures I’ve taken). 



Stand…Play: Paper, Scissors, Rock…..and wait.  No, they weren’t playing PSR but it looks like it doesn’t it?



First lap in the arena, all in step and looking good for the judge.



Chief (the leader) is an awesome mover and is the reason why at this show he won the Ladies Cart class. 



In every hitch class, the judges have them go around the arena both ways; at a walk and at a trot then they are brought in to the middle and asked to back up a few steps.  This shows the judge that the horses are willing to do whatever they are asked.  Sometimes there’s a “re-work” in which the judge, who is having a tough time deciding, requires two or more hitches to take an extra lap around the ring.  After that they pull out of the line up when their number is called and receive a ribbon and/or trophy.  First place is usually called last and that entry, after collecting their ribbon/trophy, will do a victory lap.  No burn outs are allowed.  I’m not even sure how that would be executed anyway. 

Hmmm, maybe rearing up on the hind legs would be the equine equivalent of a race car burn out.  Might be ok for the lead horse, not so hot as the wheel team.  Ha ha.  No, not funny, I’ve seen that happen.  Yuck.



Coming back to the barns.



Another Clyde hitch parked and being unhitched from the wagon.



The driver, having already unhooked the leader sets the “lead-bar” aside so the wheel team can be taken off and led back to the barn to be possibly unharnessed and unbraided if no more classes are required for that particular horse. 

I hope I haven’t lost any of you yet.  One more yet to come and I will wrap this horse show stuff up for the year.  Promise.


17 thoughts on “View From The Rail

  1. Are you kidding me? This was the very best part of my morning, sitting here in my den, sipping coffee, and drooling over Chief, Harley and Jacob! Simply breathtaking .. I could hear the jingle-jangle of their harnesses from here and I swear I saw movement in those photos … just gorgeous!!

    More please!


  2. So very WAY COOL (yah I know….inappropriate lingo for a 65 year old right??)….LOL….but I just love seeing all these photos – they’re just grand. Bring ’em on – couldn’t possibly get tired of seeing them. Honest.

    Hugs, Pam


  3. I am learning so much from your posts! The pictures are fascinating and your love for this is so apparent. I love your references to the race cars, too! (That’s the only horsepower we know about in this family!) Thanks for sharing, Dee. Can’t wait to see more!


  4. Very interesting! Reading your posts about horses and the work you do with them makes me realize this is yet another world that I have absolutely no knowledge of! Good point that there are only a few people who have skills in this area. Good to preserve this art, and the see these magnificent animals at their finest! Thanks for the window into this world! ~ Sheila


    1. Hi Shelia. I’m very happy I can say it is not a dying art. There’s so many up and coming “teamsters” (old terminology!) out there that I have complete faith it will go on for generations to come. Have a beautiful day out there…take a deep breath of mountain air for me, I sure miss it!


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