We walked around the back of the show barn to watch the horses being unloaded. Some of the trailers were massive!! Some looked like homes and trailers combined, with pushed out windows and living space expansions. Holy crap!
The tails of the draft horses are docked when they are about 2 years of age. :-( Apparently this is for hygienic reasons. My understanding is that they are also shod before they hit the two year mark. Their feet are almost square and their shoes are specialized.
First group up was the 2011 babies. :-) OMG, they were so cute! All legs! They kept nickering to each other. You could almost hear them saying "What the heck is going on?" "Who are you?"
Each age group started with Belgians, then Percherons followed by the Clydes. I was surprised at how many different colour variations there were in each breed. Each horse was looked over by the judge, then had to trot to the end of the paddock and back. Even the younger horses had presence! So majestic. Jean, of course, was oooh-ing and awwww-ing throughout the competition. :-)
Some of the younger horses were a bit flighty, understandably. They were being spooked by the noises and smells from the midway and the announcer at the other ring. See the little stick/crop in the handler's hand in the picture below? It is used to make the horse keep its head up or it is used to tap the horse on the leg to improve how the horse is standing.
Even as youngsters, these horses are big and can be a handful (see above). One 2009 Clyde was upset. The more agitated she got, the more her handler pulled on her halter, which had a chain under her chin, and waving that crop in her face (WTH??). The more he pulled, the more pain she was in and the more she wanted to get away from him. He was also standing directly in front of her, which I thought was unsafe. Well, she started to rear. This man just kept pulling harder on the halter and waving that crop in her face. She eventually reared and struck out, hitting the man on his forehead with her shod hoof. The sound was sickening, like a watermelon being hit with a hammer. He went down, blood a-gushing. He was helped off the field and loaded into an ambulance. Another handler stood in for him and continued showing this young horse. Interestingly, as soon as the horse got away from her original handler, she calmed right down and was not a problem. In fact, she placed first.
Early in the afternoon, I left Jean sitting in the stands. I told her I was going to see if I could get in the show barn and take some pictures. On my way there, I noticed a young man waiting to show. He was very polite and willing to share his knowledge. Did you know that draft horses don't have a long life? When they hit the 20 year old mark, they are "old". When I told him I had a Canadian, he said that he had a Canadian/QH cross that was his trail horse - one of the best horses he ever had. :-) She was purchased at 20-years of age as a family horse, and she passed away last year at 32 years.
This is one of his family's Clydes. Isn't she gorgeous? She is a 2-year old and is "his" horse. See the decorations in her mane? He braided her hair, then fed cheese cloth through it and attached the decorations. Cool, eh?
As we chatted, it came about that his family breeds Clydes and their farm is located only 30 minutes away!! I told him about Jean's dream and he very kindly said to bring her over to the barn after he had finished this last competition and he would show her some of his horses. How wonderful!! I went back and told Jean. She was so excited!
We met him, and his parents, in the barn. I was impressed that immediately after he introduced us to his parents, the young man watered and fed his horse before he came and talked to us. They were a nice family; warm and funny. They obviously loved their horses and provided all sorts of information. They also didn't look at Jean like she had antenna growing out of her head when she told them she wanted to have a Clyde as a pleasure ride. Jean is not ready yet, but will be in two years. The young man's mother said that if they couldn't provide the right horse for her, they would help her find one through their Clyde connections. How nice is that??!
In spite of their young age, the horses they brought to the show were fine being touched and handled. They didn't mind having their feet picked up. I think that is an indication of the care that they are receiving. Both Jean and I were in awe of how big these horses are. Being in their presence was pretty amazing. I could completely understand how Jean would want to ride one of these giants. As a matter of fact, Jean was quite smitten with a little 2011 roan baby they had shown that day. Yep, I am thinking that Jean may have a roan Clyde gelding in her future..... :-)