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 showcased the heritage of the sport and 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 Friday 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.
High Point Clydesdales
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.
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