Horse powered competition
Twice a day various competitions are held in the fairgrounds arena. If I remember correctly,
each day there is a matinee show in the afternoon and another show each night on Friday, Saturday
and Sunday. We had tickets for all shows. With the horses made sparkling clean, wearing tack
that can cost upwards of $10,000 and more, they are hitched to a wagon, cart or buggy. The Americana
competition is one of my favorite events.
Each competition event takes place with the announcer explaining everything that is going
on. The explanation becomes a very interesting tutorial. I found it fun to hear how various
movements are graded during an event. The different types of horse drawn vehicles are explained
and how they are used. I find the education aspect of the shows as much fun as the actual competitions.
The conastoga wagon, the RV of the day
One demonstration I find most interesting is the way a team of 8 horses pull a freight wagon
through a city. The way the horses back the wagon up to a dock and then maneuver out of the
way of other teams is short of amazing.
The many configurations of horse teams I find interesting. We saw buggies pulled by a single
horse as well as horse drawn vehicles being pulled by all type of arrangements. For example:
2, 3 and 4 steeds in a side-by-side configurations. The usual 2 by 2, 2 by 3, 2 by 4 as well
as other special set ups. There were demonstrations of Roman chariots and wagons pulled by mules.
A few small wagons were being pulled by cute miniature horses.
One specialized team is the tandem team were two horses are connected to a buggy with one
horse in front of the other. A buggy really needs only one horse to pull its weight. This configuration
is used when a man was on the way to go hunting with friends. The horse immediately in front
of the buggy was pulling all the weight while the horse out in front was just trotting along
freely. Then when the buggy arrives at the hunting lodge, the front horse is taken out of the
harness and saddled up for the hunter to ride. Because the front horse didn’t have to
pull a load, it was more rested and ready for rider equestrian activities.
Teamster drives by the Judges and announcer booth
Some of the demonstrations featured how horse power is used to do heavy work such as pulling
harvested logs out of a forest. The driver stood on a couple of logs connected to a team of
two horses. The horses then pulled the load, dragging the logs across the ground while maneuvering
around obstacles just as they would in a forest of uncut trees. I was amazed at just how good
the driver and the horses were at avoiding objects in the pathway.
This is the way logs were taken out of the forest after being harvested
Another show of the strength of a team of draft horses was accomplished by connecting a team
of two horses to a sledge that was loaded with heavy cargo. The load is then pulled through
a measured distance with the runners of the sledge digging into the dirt of the arena. Additional
weight is added until only one team can still pull the very heavy load.
Specialty performances are sometimes the most fun to watch. There is a woman who rides a
dancing horse and a quartet of women who do riding tricks and twirl lassoes. One act that was
both spectacular and unusual was a man riding two horses while standing on their backs. These
unusual acts are often placed between more traditional events. It gives the people on the arena
floor the opportunity to change setups for a different competition.