Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 8, 2019 – The first day of the Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show in the equestrian community of Wellington, Florida took place Friday, February 8. Founded by Victoria McCullough, the Chesapeake International Draft Horse show was held at Crab Orchard Equestrian Estate, generously donated by Frank and Monica McCourt. Beautiful wagons, painted in team colors and showcasing the heritage of the sport, made up the whole package as these teams displayed their skills to the judges. Showcasing the three breeds of draft horse, Belgian, Clydesdale, and Percheron, classes featured a six-horse hitch for each breed as well as a ladies cart.
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 first class of the day was the Belgian Six-Horse Hitch, which saw four teams compete for the first blue ribbon of the inaugural Chesapeake International Horse Show. Originating in Belgium, the Belgian breed has the highest annual registration numbers. Starting the competition on an exciting note, the Belgians made a lasting impression on the crowd as they trotted around the ring cheered on by their fans. The first blue ribbon of the day was awarded to the Sugar Ridge RV owned hitch, from Danville, Vermont driven by Kirk. Second place went to the EH Perkins Construction hitch driven by Dusty hailing from Stowe, Massachusetts. The third place hitch was driven by Sarah and owned by the Brockwood Belgians based out of Dayton, Pennsylvania.
The Clydesdales were then on display as the famed feathered giants took to the arena. Originally from Scotland, the Clydesdale is the most recognizable of all the draft breeds. Five teams hitched up for the class, and their presence was felt as they worked around the arena. The traditional tack of the horses was on display as it shined in the Florida sun. Winning the Clydesdale class was the Highpoint Clydesdales hitch driven by Freeman from Hooper, Utah. Coming in second place was the hometown favorite, Chesapeake Clydesdales, driven by Jim with assistance from the show’s founder, McCullough. Third place was awarded to Hunting Creek Farm, based in Hamptonville, North Carolina, driven by Chip.
Rounding out the six-horse hitch classes were the Percherons. Four teams competed in the class, all made up of beautifully turned out black horses. Originating in France and considered the smaller of the draft breeds, these horses still managed to make the ground shake and kick up the sand under their hooves as they thundered by spectators. Taking top honors was the Zubrod Percherons hitch from Guthrie, Oklahoma, driven by Chad. Coming in second was Express Ranches from Yukon, Oklahoma, driven by Josh. Third place was awarded to Blue Ribbon Farm from Farmington, Missouri, driven by Dean.
After an entertainment break, the ladies cart competitors were set to compete. Switching from wagons to two-wheel single carts, the ladies brought in one horse of their choosing to drive. The class showed off each draft breed and included both mares and geldings. Boasting a field of 12 competitive entries, the ladies split up into two groups of six to allow space to properly show off their skills. The ladies performed in the same manner as the six-horse, completing laps of the arena before changing direction, demonstrating walk-trot transitions before lining up and showcasing a reverse and allowing the judge to look over their overall presentation. Taking top honors in the ladies cart was the Express Ranch driver, Jeanine, who was beautifully dressed to match her shining wagon and jet black four-year-old Percheron, Joe. Coming in second was Sugar Ridge RV driver Mary and her Belgian mare, with third place going to Blue Ribbon Farm driver Alli, who showed a Percheron in the ladies cart.
The Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show continues on Saturday, February 9 at 1:00 p.m and on Sunday, February 10 at 12:00 p.m. Benefiting the EQUUS Foundation and the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches, competition continues with the Classic Six, Ladies Team, Four-Horse Hitch, Eight-Horse Hitch, as well as the Unicorn Class and Charity Team Class.
Crab Orchard Equestrian Estate is proudly offered for sale. For more information, please click here.
High Point Clydesdales – Clydesdales Six-Horse Hitch winner
On Chesapeake International
“This is the most amazing show that we have ever been to. There isn’t a more picturesque place to be! Victoria has been so generous and kind and a great hostess. This show, being the first year, has been very professional and very well run and that’s a big deal for exhibitors. We are very pleased to be here. We came from northern Utah to be here! if we had driven it straight it would have been a 4-day trip. We came all the way here just for this show and it has been so worth it.”
On their six-horse hitch team
“10-years ago we didn’t own a horse! My husband and I bought a few horses off of the internet and went to a few shows as spectators and knew this was what we wanted to do! There is something really magical about what happens when a full hitch goes past you and you feel the ground rumble beneath you – it can be a very emotional thing for people and we felt that. We started getting more competitive and buying horses that matched and worked together and here we are!”
Sugar Ridge RV – Belgian Six-Horse Hitch winner
On the Belgian six-horse hitch
“We have an all mare hitch, we also have two foals that were born in January here as well, we have four generations of mares in the hitch and we also have 4 other horses to make 8 total.”
On Chesapeake International
“The show has been fabulous. This has been a great facility – it is very easy to work with, the accommodations are beautiful.”
On their understanding their win
“We show in both directions of the ring and the judges look for uniformity, so we strive to give them one picture of a horse. The profiles should be the same and each horse should have a lot of knee and hock action. For us, we always laugh that we are kind of cheating because four of our horses are related, so they have the same profile!”
Zubrod Percherons – Percheron Six-Horse Hitch winner
On winning their hitch at the Chesapeake International
“It is a great show and a beautiful facility – I really want to thank Victoria on everything that she has done for us! We had a good ride, they were smooth and felt powerful. They drove well into corners and I am thrilled to have gotten a good rip out of them.”
On Zubrod Percherons
“We have built a couple of different bunches over the years and this bunch has been together for a little under a year. It has only been in the last couple of months that they have finally come together and learned to play as a team and do what they are supposed to do and what we have known they could do all along.”
On showing Percheron mares
“Percherons carry a little bit more attitude and have some more “show off” in them than the other larger breeds. This team happens to be all mares and we breed all mares, and we prefer to show a hitch of mares. If you can get a hitch of six mares that can all get together and have a good day on the same day – that is so special! Mares have a special class to them and it is something that you can’t replicate with geldings.”
Express Ranches – Ladies Cart Winner
On the winning horse
“The horse’s name is Joe and he is a 4-year-old Percheron. He was amazing. Even though he was young he was amazing. There were a lot of very nice horses in that class and he really stood out.”
On the winning performance
“I thought we had an excellent performance. He drove really smooth and he backed very nicely and I didn’t struggle. He did everything I asked of him.”
On competing at the Chesapeake International
“This horse show is amazing. We have not ever shown in a place like this. I really appreciated being in an outdoor arena and I love the scenery. Every time you turn around there is an amazing picture and that is what these shows are about – the dressing up and the picture so it is ideal!”
Belgian Six Horse Hitch
1. Sugar Ridge RV – Danville, VT
2. EH Perkins Construction – Stowe, MA
3. Brockwood Belgians – Dayton, PA
4. Smart Cabinetry – New Paris, IN
Clydesdale Six Horse Hitch
1. Highpoint Clydesdales – Hooper, Utah
2. Chesapeake Clydesdales – Wellington, FL
3. Hunting Creek Farm – Hamptonville, NC
4. Burger Barn – Ontario, Canada
5. Grandview Clydesdales – Dunnellon, FL
Percheron Six Horse Hitch
1. Zubrod Percherons – Guthrie, OK
2. Express Ranches – Yukon, OK
3. Blue Ribbon Farm – Farmington, MO
4. Yoder Hay Company – Westcliff, CO
1. Express Ranches – Yukon, CO
2. Sugar Ridge RV – Danville, VT
3. Blue Ribbon Farm – Farmington, MO
4. Brockwood Belgians – Dayton, PA
5. EH Perkins Construction – Stowe, MA