Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 10, 2019 – The Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show concluded Sunday, February 10 with an exciting finish to the weekend on a beautiful day in Wellington. The afternoon, which benefited the EQUUS Foundation, exhibited two classes, the Eight-Horse Hitch and the Unicorn Class. Held at Crab Orchard Equestrian Estate, generously donated by Frank and Monica McCourt, crowds drew to see the gentle giants up close and cheer them on.
For each class, spectators watched in amazement as the gentle giants entered the arena. The two judges, Bob Shanahan of Ohio and Alan Freitag of Virginia, lined up in the middle of the ring to watch the team tests. The class 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 individually 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 featured was the Eight-Horse Hitch, which showed crowds mass amounts of power paired with the agility of the draft breeds. Drivers kept precise control of each team of horses as they showed off for the judges. Horses were beautifully turned out, their manes braided and tack shining as they trotted around the arena. The Eight-Horse Hitch welcomed the draft breeds of Clydesdale, Percheron, and Belgian to go head-to-head in competition. The judges awarded first place to Express Ranches from Yukon, Oklahoma with their driver Josh Minshull. Second place went to Blue Ribbon Farm, based in Farmington, Missouri. In third was Zubrod Percherons from Guthrie, Oklahoma.
During the break, spectators got a chance to get up close and personal with Teddy, a rescue miniature pony that the EQUUS Foundation helped to rehome. Now owned by Georgina Bloomberg, Teddy is a prime example of the exceptional work that the EQUUS Foundation does. Also joining the EQUUS Foundation representatives were Jessica Springsteen and Clementine Goutal, who are both advocates for the foundation. The girls were treated to a ride in the hitches during the Unicorn class, getting a firsthand glimpse of what it is like to compete in the sport.
The final class of the weekend was the Unicorn class. As special as its name, the Unicorn class sees two horses in the back and one up front. Entering the class were 12 teams, all of them using their best horses as this class can be more challenging. Due to its unique structure, it is important that the horse in the front stays in the middle track and doesn’t sway side to side. This horse has to be well trained and confident to pull the cart forward on its own. Shining above the rest in this class were the Zubrod Percherons from Guthrie, Oklahoma, driven by Chad Zubrod. In second place was Express Ranches from Yukon, Oklahoma and rounding out the top three was Blue Ribbon Farm from Farmington, Missouri.
The Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show was lovingly founded by Victoria McCullough. Praised by crowds, friends, and competitors, the show celebrated its inaugural year with great turnout and tough competition. Benefiting two charities close to McCullough and her work in the equestrian town of Wellington, the Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show is proud to support the EQUUS Foundation and the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches.
For more information about the EQUUS Foundation, click here
For more information about the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches, click here
Crab Orchard Equestrian Estate is proudly offered for sale. For more information, click here
Josh Minshull – Express Ranches driver – Eight-Horse Hitch winner
On the eight-horse team win:
“We’ve actually been showing Clydesdales for the last 20 years under Express Clydesdales and in August we converted our competitive hitch to the Percheron group. This is still a relatively new group to us, it’s just been five or six months that we’ve been competing with them. They’re coming together pretty well and they had a good drive in the [Eight-Horse] today so they’re starting to come together as a unit as you’d like them to. It takes some time since they’re pretty new to us but we’re having a lot of fun with them.”
On the Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show:
“It was wonderful! Victoria [McCullough] has put on a world-class event here and it’s competitive, but it’s relaxed. We’ve really enjoyed the atmosphere and the environment in the barns here. And of course the weather is great compared to home!”
On what’s next for the team
“Competitively we’re going to take a break for a little while, we won’t fire back up until late June, so we will let the horses have a rest. We’ve been on the road for the last four weeks, we’ve done four shows in four weekends back-to-back. Our first two weeks were in Colorado and then we did Ocala last weekend and now here. The horses and the crew are ready for a little bit of a break and then we’ll start training them for the summer season!”
Chad Zubrod – Zubrod Percherons driver – Unicorn Class winner
On the weekend at the Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show
“We have had a great show here in Wellington and trip to Florida. We’ve done really well, and we appreciate everything Victoria has done for us. It feels good, all our hard work is paying off. We spend a lot of time trying to put this bunch of mares together and you know, they let you down at times but we have stuck with them and not changed a lot of things that people thought we needed to change and try new things. We just hung on to the same group and kept training, and now they are all coming together and playing as a team and doing their jobs and that makes us very proud of them. We didn’t have to change horses, we just had to give them the time to mature and figure everything out.”
On training at home
“It’s just my wife and I and our two kids. At night, after work, we spend a lot of time just driving them as teams, a lot of time just walking on the sled and they learn to be fit and calm and do their jobs and work together. It’s a lot easier to pull a load when they work together rather than if they fight each other and bounce all over the place so they spend most of their time doing it in teams.”
On coming back to Wellington
“There is a good chance we will be back in Florida next year. It’s a beautiful place to show, it’s warm, it has been a lot of fun. It has been a great show for Oklahoma, Express has done really well too and Oklahoma isn’t really a hot spot for draft horses, we are the only two in the state almost. So it’s a big deal for us to come to a show and have a state that isn’t draft horse country so to speak and do so well.”
1. Express Ranches — Yukon, OK
2. Blue Ribbon Farm — Farmington, MO
3. Zubrod Percherons — Guthrie, OK
4. EH Perkins Construction — Stowe, MA
5. Brockwood Belgians — Dayton, PA
1. Zubrod Percherons — Guthrie, OK
2. Express Ranches — Yukon, OK
3. Blue Ribbon Farm — Farmington, MO
4. EH Perkins Construction — Stowe, MA
5. Chesapeake Clydesdales — Wellington, FL