Six Hitches in Giddy-Up

Hitch - Brookside Farms
Sparta, WI (dwm photo)
Technology changes our lives every day and has for years.

Remember buggy whip manufacturers? Neither do I.

While a hundred years ago, draft horses were needed to do every big task on a farm.  They pulled the plow; powered the wheel to grind the grain; and hauled the harvest into town.

Trucks deliver goods now, but the practice of delivering is still on the test for modern draft horses (do you suppose they wonder what the point is?).  A judge asks the driver to move the horses and wagon straight back then pull forward.

From where I sit, it's difficult to see much difference from one team to another.  The horses are magnificent.  Big. Strong.

A six horse hitch - Goodell Clydesdales; Gilmore City, IA
dwm photo
After attending a dozen or more shows through the years; I can tell you I'm impressed by a matching set of horses walking or trotting in step.

The wagons are impressive when polished and gleaming.  I doubt it enters into the judging, but I suspect it could be a subliminal factor in a judge's mind.

Double Horseshoe Farm
Springfield, IL  (dwm)
For a half-dozen years, we didn't miss an evening in the Coliseum to watch the draft-horse hitch.  One year it started late. Real late.
So late, the coliseum was packed and staring at a dirt oval.

The organist played, but it was a long time before the horses arrived.  As a distraction, someone started a wave.  The organist picked up on it, and everyone joined in as people stood with hands in the air, then sat to wait for another wave 10 or more times before it came ashore.

Not easy! (dwm)
Since the last time we took in the Clydesdale Horses - organizers reversed the order of performance.  For years it started with a single horse and driver in a cart; then two horses; three horses (called a Unicorn hitch, but alas no actual unicorns); four; and finally six.

It makes for a long evening for folks who can't tell a bridle from a harness.

Starting with the impressive 6 horse hitches and working backwards puts the big-name superstars on display early to capture the attention of the casual and curious fan.  Kudos to State Fair staff for making the change.

Horses and drivers come from all over the United States and Canada to Milwaukee for the competition - if it weren't at State Fair I would have never seen it.  Well done.