Show Season – The End


Belgians in black and white.



Belgians in color.



I love Belgians.



I grew up with Belgians.



I’m biased.



Percherons are nice too.  Back in the late ‘80’s, for one season, we had show “six” of them (in dapple grey)…



…at the same time we were promoting a show six of Belgians.  What were you thinking Dad?



Never had a hitch Clydesdales though.  They’re a lot of work man.  A lot.  Hmmmm…maybe not as much work as two sixes.  Maybe the same.



A cart class.  Some stand well by themselves, some not so well.  Loving the Dapple grey on the very end.



A mini-reunion with an Auntie.



Harness cleaning…each and every time it comes off the horses.  We’re not anal, it’s the way everyone rolls. 



Junior Team Class – Junior to drive.


*I didn’t take any pictures of the Four-Horse Hitch class…I think Auntie and I went to Starbucks at that point.  Can’t remember. 

You can picture a Four-horse Hitch class by now can’t you?  Sure you can…See picture below and take away two.



The Six Horse Hitch Class for the Belgians.



An exhibition of Draft mules was worked into the show schedule to give the Belgian Six exhibitors time to get their eight-horse hitches ready for the combined breed, Eight-Horse Hitch class.  I love their ears.



There are some shows in the United States that incorporate draft mules into draft horse shows.  They’re called, clever enough, a “Draft Horse and Mule Show”; the long eared darlings just have their own classes.



The Eight’s coming around the bend…



And into the ring.



Not everyone goes in the ring at once.  At any show, the size of the arena dictates how many entries are allowed in at once.  Discretion is left up to the Ring Stewart (the judge’s assistant) or the Judge himself.  For the Eight class it’s obviously going to be fewer entries than say the Team.  The reason for this is because if there’s too much “traffic” the horses can’t do a good extended trot for the judge.  Picture rush hour in your favorite city and you get the idea.



A few off the cuff facts:

The tallest horses are nearest the wagon and gradually get shorter to the lead position.

The length of the hitch from the leaders noses to the tailgate of the wagon is longer than a semi trailer…approximately sixty feet.

Not figuring in resistance, which can be upwards of thirty-five pounds, the weight of Glenview’s eight leather lines in the driver’s hands equals about twenty pounds, other outfit’s may be much heavier.

Show harnesses in general vary in weight from hitch to hitch and ours is much lighter than most but the weight of say, Chief’s collar alone is about forty pounds.



The Percherons that won the Eight-Horse Hitch class doing their victory lap.



There was an obstacle class at the show in which a driver, who is being timed, must navigate his team thru a memorized pattern with as few mistakes as possible.  Clearly, the right-hand horse didn’t like the looks of the scary white gate and red-ball topped orange pylon. 



A simulated “water hazard” – plywood painted blue.





In this class drivers are allowed to lope or gallop through the course if they wish…it’s a real crowd pleaser and really gets everyone cheering and clapping.



The Draft Riding class – another crowd favorite.  I literally ran to the arena to specifically take pictures of some friends of ours boy.. so every picture is of him.  He’s a cutie.



His horse looks like a handful here but she was just a little excited after getting the cue to lope.





I think he was pretty happy with his ride.



“Good mare”.



Receiving a ribbon from his sister and she’s about to give the mare a nice “well done girl” pat on the rump.  Look at the Ring Steward’s face, even he knows how cute that is, sister handing brother his ribbon.  Awesome.



Plowing Demonstration on the grounds of Michigan State University, just across the road from the show arena.  (They were resting the horses when I was there – darn it.)

So I shall wrap this up with one of the things draft horses were ultimately bred for – plowing.  Oh sure, they were also bred for pulling things like delivery wagons too, hence the word draught, meaning: to pull or pull a load.  But did you know they were also bred for carrying knights into battle in Medieval times?  And the colored decorations we use today for showing harken back to the favorite or family colors of the knight’s “lady fair” or “fair damsel” worn during jousting events?  I know it, I always thought that was cool too.



No colors being worn here!

The Great Lakes Show touts that it is the only draft horse show in the entire United States to offer as many classes and events as they do.  At first I thought…uh huh, sure they do.  But then after thinking back to all the shows and fairs and whatnot I’ve been to or taken part in over the years, I realized it was true and not just hype.



Lansing has all the typical classes that most draft shows offer – Halter thru the Eight-horse hitch classes.  Not all shows have the draft riding class, though it’s really catching on.  Nor the relatively new obstacle class using a marathon vehicle and most have a Pulling Contest (I didn’t get pictures of that, sorry) but I can tell you I’ve never seen or heard of a plowing demonstration being included with all that other stuff anywhere else.  



The semi’s coming down the fog covered driveway Sunday night after they packed up and left Lansing.

The Michigan Great Lakes International Draft Horse Show seriously has it all.  Hands down.  If you’re in the neighborhood next October you ought to stop in.  If not, go out and catch a show next year, I bet there’s one near you and I bet you won’t be disappointed!



I won’t be seeing this sight again until 2013…the show season around here is officially over!

33 thoughts on “Show Season – The End

  1. Love your posts. And especially happy you have pride in your awesome husband and son for doing this. I think it is awesome that you have found a way to enjoy the shows again – this time through photos and blogging. Now try to imagine taking all those photos AND video with a tripod AND helping to hitch, unhitch, clean harness and run a book booth on the other side of the fairgrounds …. then maybe you can understand the blank look on my face when asked what I wanted to do for dinner. hahahahaha


  2. Love your pictures, and thanks for explaining everything so well. No trouble picking my favorite picture this time: the “Eights coming ’round the bend”! But I also loved the ones of your friend’s son, and his sister giving him the ribbon. That was a moment they’ll probably always remember! Glad you captured it for them.


  3. What can I say (again) but WOW…..just love the photos – they’re simply stunning and show every horse to its’ best (which isn’t hard to do considering how gorgeous horses are!). This has to be an amazing thing to experience and a favorite time of the year for you – yes it looks like it’s a TON of work….but I just bet if you could get just one of your Clydes to say how he feels about it he’d say “it’s worth it! we look good and we know it!”…….Thanks for sharing show season with us Dee….it’s been ALMOST like being there….

    Hugs, Pam


    1. Thanks. It was the only show I agreed going to this year, Jake wanted to go so badly since he missed out on so many of them this year with his “lung thing”. I could not say no and so glad I didn’t since I really, truly had such a blast not only taking pictures but seeing old friends and some relatives too! ;)
      Thanks for going along Pam!
      Hugs back,


  4. This has been an awesome trip you have taken us on (again). It has been a pleasure reading about and viewing the horses and your family involvement through your wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing.


  5. You not only captured the moments, you drew us into the the emotion, the love and the pride you feel for these majestic, beautiful and powerful animals and those who respect and care for them. And all I can say is that next October, I hope to have some time off and come over for a day. **sigh**

    This post was perfection.


    1. You humble me MJ. Really.
      Good or bad it’s the one and only thing that I know really, really well. It was my college education if you will, my husband is the one with the Doctorate in it. ;)
      Thank you from the bottom of my heart and honestly, if you can make it over, I will do what I can to show you around and introduce you to folks (or horses!) if you wish.


  6. Fabulous, D! I’ve enjoyed seeing all your pictures from the Show, and, although I understand only about one of every four words when you describe the goings-on, I have to figure I’m learning a thing or two about horses reading your terrific play-by-play.

    What’s your take on how much the horses enjoy doing these shows? How about the travel?


  7. Because horses are such individuals, just as we are, it varies from horse to horse. I’ve worked with some that make it clear that although they don’t mind their “job” they don’t care for the hoards of people and will give all passer’s by a nice view of their “behind” or by pinning back their ears. I’ve also worked with some that LOVE the attention and will want to be petted non-stop. As to the travel, I’ve never noticed anything, attitude wise, either way.
    Thanks Sid. ;)


  8. Dee, we are on our way back to MN so I am just getting to reading your blog. I can’t thank you enough for the time and effort you go through so we can experience what your life in all about. You really know how to make the whole experience real. Never stop! Pictures and description where wonderful. Loved the “off the cuff” facts also. Thanks again!


    1. I know what you mean Bill. I’ve often felt that the hope of folks that put on these types of events (county/state fairs and stock shows too) is that more of our population in general becomes more educated and perhaps aware, not only about what it was like way back when, but agricultural in general. I might be biased, being from a farming/ranching family, but I sure think it’s important.
      Thanks for stopping by!


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