Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 9, 2019 – Day two of the Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show at Crab Orchard Equestrian Estate started off with a big bang with the Six-Horse Hitch Classic Saturday. The day’s events included entertainment from the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches, as well as the Four-Horse Hitch and the Ladies Team Cart class. A large crowd gathered at the Crab Orchard Equestrian Estate, generously donated by Frank and Monica McCourt, for the beautiful day in Wellington, Florida to cheer on their favorite teams from Friday.
For each class, spectators watched in amazement as the gentle giants entered the arena. The judges lined up in the middle of the ring to watch the team tests which consisted of teams’ completing three laps around the ring at the trot before changing direction across the diagonal. Trotting across the diagonal gives the drivers a chance to showcase their team’s skills to the judging panel. All hitches were then asked to demonstrate the natural gait, the walk, and the trot in the opposite direction to show the horses ability to work in unison under control. After being asked to line up in the center of the ring, the judges took a final look at the hitches’ presentations, while also asking for a demonstration the reverse gait. The final team scores were based on their ability to work together, head carriage, consistency, and the overall presentation of the hitch and driver.
The Six-Horse Hitch Classic class was comprised of 13 teams that included all the draft breeds—Clydesdale, Percheron, and Belgian. The teams were split into four heats to allow them room in the ring to really show off their skills to the judge. The top five teams were then called back to allow the judge to make his final decision. In the end, it was the Express Ranches team from Yukon, Oklahoma, driven by Josh, who took the top honors. Coming in second was Blue Ribbon Farm from Farmington, Missouri, driven by Dean. Third place in the very competitive class went to the Zubrod Percherons from Guthrie, Oklahoma, driven by Chad.
The Young Singers of the Palm Beaches put on a wonderful performance during the break, singing for the crowd before the rest of the days’ classes. As the beneficiary of the days’ events, the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches is an award-winning community-based children’s choir based at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida. Attendees were able to see first hand the positive impact the choir has on its members.
After the entertainment it was time for the Ladies Team Cart, where women of all ages drove their wagons with two horses pulling them forward. All of the ladies had beautifully turned out teams, wagons, and were dressed to match the part. In first place was Sugar Ridge Ranch from Danville, Vermont, driven by Mary Fernhoff. In second place was Blue Ribbon Farm from Farmington, Missouri, driven by Alli Woodbury. Finishing in third place was Express Ranches from Yukon, Oklahoma driven by Jeanine Regier.
The day was capped off with the Four-Horse Hitch class, with six hitches coming back without their swing team. This was another large and highly competitive class, with the crowd cheering excitedly as the horses thundered by them. The judge awarded first place to Zubrod Percherons from Guthrie, Oklahoma, driven by Chad. Second place went to Blue Ribbon Farm from Farmington, Missouri, driven by Dean. Rounding out the top three was Express Ranches from Yukon, Oklahoma, driven by Josh.
The Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show resumes on Sunday, February 10 at 12:00 p.m and will feature the Eight-Horse Hitch as well as the Unicorn and Charity Class. The day’s competition will benefit the EQUUS Foundation.
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FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Express Ranches – Six-Horse Hitch Classic Champion
On the event:
“We have sponsored Clydesdales and Percherons for about 22 years now. This is a great event and Victoria has done a tremendous job getting this event here in Wellington and we are so happy to be here.”
On their hitch:
“We just purchased the Percheron hitch last summer from a gentleman out of British Columbia and Ontario, Canada. We matched those horses together, and we ran those horses at the world show where we reserve champion, so we’re really happy with them, they are a good set of horses.”
On the decision to show Percherons:
“The Percherons have a little more action because they are a little more fine boned and they are not quite as heavy footed, so it gives them a little more action. We still have about 20 Clydesdales that we will use in our parades all across North America.”
Sugar Horse Ranch – Ladies Team Champion
On their performance:
“They are mares, named Ester and Jojo and they are mother and daughter. We raised both of them on our farm in Vermont. It is pretty exciting to go out there and win with home raised horses. My daughter has a good time up there with us and she drove them back from the ring to the barn, and it’s a great family affair, we all really enjoy it.”
On her experience driving draft horses:
“I grew up showing Belgians and then I traveled the East Coast for seven years, during which time, I was the first woman to drive the Budweiser Clydesdales. It’s really great to come back to driving your own horses and ones that you have raised, it’s something to be proud of.”
Zubrod Percherons – Four-Horse Hitch Champion
On the four-horse hitch team:
“The four I used today were my wheel team, which is the two that are normally on the wagon the two biggest horses we have and my lead team. They are four mares that we are really happy with, they have been very good to us. The wheel team has a lot of power to pull the wagon when the ground gets deep and things are heavy so that’s what they are there for.”
On handling a busy day of showing:
“When it’s warm and you have a lot of classes we try to alternate classes and we don’t use horses in back-to-back classes if we can avoid it. Just like professional sports teams taking half time, we try to give them a little half-time and most of them are ready to go again. These four were ready to go and still felt strong coming back to the ring, they definitely had some gas left in the tank.”
On competing as a family:
“There are so many hitches nowadays that compete at a high level because they are paid to do it. Somebody owns the operation and there is somebody paid to take care of the horses and drive them. It’s a big deal for us to to be able to do it as a family when my wife and I both have outside jobs. This is our hobby, it’s what we do when we get home from work at night, and then we go to shows to see our friends. It’s really nice to be able to do it together, our kids love it, our daughter loves it, she had a really nice drive today in the Ladies Team. She’s very well accomplished for no more years than what she has and hopefully she can take my spot and I can sit back and watch!”
Six Horse Classic
Four Horse Hitch