Saturday, September 07, 2019

Ready as I'll ever be

Meaning that there are more (I had typed "a lot more," but got some photos off Rick's phone just this afternoon) related photos 'out there,' but the chances of me getting them soon from a friend's phone and my husband's camera are too slim to wait now that I have finally gotten through all my photos.

You asked for it; here are 'some' (ha!) shots from the Draft Horse Show of the 2019 Oregon State Fair – finally. 😉

On Sunday evening, Aug. 25, I went down to the Fair specifically to ride Emma around the show arena. I had only been on her back twice before, and I did not feel at all prepared (it's the dressage rider/trainer in me). This time at her owner's suggestion, I rode her in the butterfly bit she uses in harness rather than the bar bit I had used for our first ride. (I didn't like how she felt in it, so switched back to the bar bit for our class the next day.)

Monday after registering Brian for school we headed over to the fairgrounds for the Bareback Equitation class.
Both of us wore purple, which is Duane's signature color
To my surprise there were 10 or 11 of us! I figured one of them, a much younger gal who has worked and ridden for various draft horse owners for a long time and who has also gotten into dressage, was my stiffest competition. Later, an owner (not the one she was riding for) told me he'd brought in a couple of ringers, his wife and her friend who have both won national championships riding in other disciplines, and wondered how I'd bested them! Yes, somehow Emma and I ended up in first place:

Brian's first class, Junior Team, Drivers 18 & Under, was on Tuesday. The five competitors not only drove around the ring, they also took turns negotiating a figure-eight around cones placed at one end.
Getting hitched
Show time!

 And how did he do?
 I guess he didn't want his old mom to show him up! 😂 (That's a crocheted afghan; every year a woman makes one for the winner of this class. Brian has two now.)

Brian's second class, Junior Cart, Drivers 18 & under, was on Wednesday. I only got this one photo because to my surprise, Brian asked if I wanted to ride shotgun with him! Now what mom would turn down an honor like that?
This time Brian got third in his class of five.

I got another surprise when Duane (owner of the Shires Brian and I showed) asked if I wanted to ride shotgun for his 4-Up Conformation class. That was fun! (Photos from Rick's phone.)
waiting in the warm-up arena

I wish I could have gotten some photos from the wagon seat; seeing all those interconnected lines makes you realize just how bad things could get if one horse in the hitch starting acting up. Fortunately, draft horses are generally pretty level-headed.

I took photos of several other classes, too. The evening horse show always opens with an equestrian presenting the flag while the national anthem plays; on this particular night the flag was presented by that draft/dressage rider I mentioned earlier:
The 6-Up Conformation class followed, with three competitors.

Three breeds were represented: Duane's Shires, Percherons, and black Clydesdales. It takes an experienced driver to handle that many horses and reins, and all three did a great job.

Here is Katie getting ready to represent One Mile Shires in the Ladies' Team class:

And Duane winning the Men's Cart class:

My second class was last Sunday, September 1. Since the class title, "Draft Horse Riding Class, Walk/Trot," didn't specify, I asked the horse show office if it was supposed to be bareback or under saddle. The answer was "it's optional." As I had seen a number of people riding draft horses around with Western saddles, I assumed everyone else would be tacked up and didn't want to be the only one out there bareback if I could help it. Since I was using a friend's draft-sized, purple-lined dressage bridle for the riding classes, I brought my dressage saddle and my longest girth to see if it would fit Emma and it did – as long as I didn't have the added bulk of a saddle pad. In for a penny, in for a pound; if I was going to stick out with my dressage tack, I might as well go all out! I dug out my upper-level shadbelly, covered my pink helmet with a black velvet cover, and donned my white breeches and gloves. I think we cleaned up well: 😉

Those photos are all I have so far, and show us leaving the ring at the end of our class, which ended up being divided. When the competitors gathered in the warm-up arena (all 13 of us! 😳), seven riders were bareback and six of us had saddles, so they decided to split the class. Fine with me; it would have been a pretty crowded arena with 13 riders on super-sized mounts, especially if any of them got excited. And Emma did get excited, but only after we won the class and were expected to do a victory lap after everyone else left the arena and they closed the gates. She tried to break into a canter and even humped up a bit, which felt like a Titan missile about to launch! Once they opened the gates so we could leave, though, you can see that she calmed right down.

That evening was the most challenging of the Draft Horse Show classes, the 6-Up Competition. The three teams entered the arena one by one to negotiate a series of challenges that represent the way they were used when they were the 'semi-trucks' of the day. Here are the other two teams headed for the warm-up arena, and Duane competing (one of his lead horses wasn't cooperating):

Then the three teams came back into the arena for the awarding of ribbons,

following which the announcer said we were going to experience something that hadn't been done at the State Fair in 20 years – a "free drive." All three of the teams were going to show off at once without a judge specifying gait or direction. No big deal, right?

Actually, it was scary. The Clydesdales got amped up and started galloping, their driver leaning back and hauling on the reins for all he was worth to keep them from careening into one of the other teams. If one or both of the other teams had responded in kind, it would have been BAD. Fortunately, all's well that ends well, and this did. I heard someone say that when Duane's wife found out about it, she probably wouldn't let him come back to the State Fair for another 20 years!

Still, he'll have his five minutes of fame. Duane and his Shires were featured on an early morning Portland news segment, "Rod on the Road" (Duane is the one with suspenders; Rod is wearing the black hat.) We got up at 5 a.m. to watch it:

Finally, here are some draft horse photos from outside the show ring:
"State Fair is exhausting."

Pretty Aggie

Selfie with Shire (this is Aggie again)

That's it for now (there could be straggler photos later) from . . .


Michelle said...

Too many photos?

Debbie said...

Definitely not!


Love your selfies.

Retired Knitter said...

BIG horses. Great photos. You guys did great!!

Tim B. Inman said...


Mama Pea said...

NO, not too many photos! How impressive! And congratulations to Brian and especially to you, Michelle. You look so good up on the horse. You should be so proud of the job you did. When you showed the photos of you riding shotgun, it struck me as to just how high up and "right out there" you are (along with the driver). I would be scared to just sit there! Glad you got the shots of you right smack dab next to that majestic horse's head. Aren't they magnificent creatures?

Post more pictures if you find them, please. Just wow.

Mokihana said...

Congratulations! Well done, both of you. Great photos!!

Jeanne said...

Fantastic!! 😃 It was even worth the wait!! If you can find more photos, PLEASE post them!

Congratulations to both you and Brian!

Leigh said...

Congratulations to you and Brian! Well done! This was very interesting because I didn't realize Shires were shown in all these classes. Beautiful horses.

thecrazysheeplady said...

I love big hitches, but I'd sure not want to try to drive them. Something really, really neat was the Great Circus Parade in Milwaukee, WI. No longer in existence, but my two favorite hitches were the 13 in a row (think about how far away that lead horse is!) and the 40 horse hitch. The year I got to go we had backstage passes and that was as fun or more fun than the actual parade. Congrats to you both!

Susan said...

I always knew you were championship material! I love the big breeds - if I had a horse, it would be an Emma. Your descriptions are delightful and had me on the edge of my seat - especially through the 'show off' part. Rampant Clydesdales in full harness with wagons running amok! Even more photographs would make me happy!

Tina T-P said...

What a great post - congrats on your wins. He'll need those afghans when he goes off to college. :-)

Michelle said...

Thanks for all the comments and kudos, folks! Emma deserves an extra round of applause and a special all-around award, as she was part of the championship plowing team at McMinnville's Ag Fest this spring, and one of the lead horses in the winning six-horse hitch.

Celebrating Charlotte said...

So fun and I love the way you write! Congrats! I love the pics and what a fun read. This is Amy Collen BTW 😊

Michelle said...

Amy! I'm so glad you identified yourself or I would have had no idea! Thanks for the compliment, my writer friend!