The Carp Fair - Heavy Horse Show

in animal •  6 months ago


They flew past me with a heavy rhythmic pounding; hooves, breathing, and the jangling of harnesses synchronized. I love this! I try to make it to the draft horse finals at the Carp Fair every year. The horse show there is considered to be the finest one in eastern Ontario. That differentiates it from the many fairs in towns across the country at this time of year.

Carp is a village of just over 2,000 people on the outskirts of western Ottawa, Canada, and this is the 155th year of its fair. Like most country fairs, they have all kinds of agricultural competitions and demonstrations, a midway, entertainment and food, but they redesigned things a few years back to make it safer for the big horse teams. Visitors are no longer allowed in the barns or hitching areas and I think this extra security has attracted more teams.


Not all the horse competitions are for draft horses, incidentally spelled "draught" in Commonwealth countries. They have western style barrel racing and other competitions too. It's just that, for me, the bigger the better when it comes to dogs and horses.

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Last Sunday, I arrived later than planned and parked my car in a makeshift farm field lot. I wondered if the show was on schedule. On the previous Friday night after a sudden tornado warning, everyone was herded into the arena while a tornado passed a mere 10 kilometers away. They're on schedule.

Six-Horse Hitch Class

As I took my seat in the stands, the finals for the "North American Six-Horse Hitch Classic Series" were being judged. It was open to any breed of draft horse and here the common ones are Belgians, Clydesdales and Percherons. I will point them all out for you.

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All of the teams were lined up in the previous photo and now the announcer is calling out how they placed in reverse order. When your name was called, you claimed your ribbon and left the ring. In the end, the first place team was left and did a lap of the ring.

I love the look of grey percherons.

IMG_6308 greys.JPG

Percherons originated in the Huisne valley in western France in the former Perche province. They are usually grey or black in color. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Arabian blood was added to the breed making them a more elegant draft horse. This next team of black Percherons won the class. Look at the front legs on the first two, very elegant.

IMG_6320 winning 6 small.JPG

There was a short break after the class. The team competitions start small. Often they leave the ring long enough to add one or two more horses to the team to compete in the next class. This all started four hours ago.

Eight-Horse Hitch Class

During the break, I wandered around, saw a sheep class and a shearing demonstration then quickly found a place when the horses entered the ring again.

IMG_6344 Belgians.JPG

These horses are Belgians. The Belgian comes from the Brabant region of Belgium, a reason why one of its several common names is the Brabant. Most Belgians in North America are this pretty light chestnut color with flaxen manes and tails with or without the white blaze and socks. Dressed for show like this, the mane and tail color aren't obvious. They are a slightly shorter and stockier horse than the Clydesdale which is the tallest breed of the three here, I say 'here' because a Belgian named Big Jake is currently the tallest horse in the world at 82.75 inches or almost 7' (210.19 cm) at the shoulder.

My favorites are the Clydesdales in the next two photos. When they're trotting along, their "feathers," that long hair around their feet, is just flying. This is the breed of horses made famous in the Budweiser beer commercials.

IMG_6353 Clydesdales.JPG

Clydesdales are one of the more popular and recognizable breeds in the world. They originated in the River Clyde valley in Scotland, an area once known as Clydesdale but since renamed to Lanarkshire.

IMG_6354 Clydesdale wagon.JPG

Wow! It's exciting close up but tough to get the whole team in one shot. I want you to see the fancy wagons too.

I mentioned earlier that sometimes they just add two horses to the team. Here, the Percherons that won the six-horse hitch class are back competing in the eight-horse hitch. Do you recognize any of them?

IMG_6346 Percherons.JPG

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Now the hitches are lined up in the middle of the field waiting to find out the winners. You can compare this to the six-horse class where I couldn't fit them all in one photo. There are fewer competitors as the hitches get larger because... well, imagine feeding just one of these big horses!

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The Clydesdales won!

Next, we have a special event. This is the first time I have ever seen a ten-horse hitch.

Ten-Horse Hitch Class

I think the announcer said they put horses together from two teams to make it. They know this sort of event really impresses the crowd. They went around quite a few times, and yes, when you are the only entry, you win.




The wagon made several trips around the large ring both walking and trotting so we could all see it. I was lucky that it stopped in front of me at one point. Count them; there really are 10. Aren't they gorgeous?


The horse show is over. I took a walk through the exhibit buildings and a few photos of the midway before walking back to my car. It was parked on the other side of a corn field. Now where is my car?

where is my car.JPG

If you like the big draft horses, see my previous posts, below, the 2015 World Clydesdale Show where they let you get up close to those amazing horses.

The World Clydesdale Show - for you horse fans
More of the World Clydesdale Show


Carp Fair
Clydesdale Horse - Wikipedia
Percheron Horse - Wikipedia
Belgian Horse
Big Jake


All photos from the iPad of @kansuze.

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I hope you enjoyed the horses!

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Beautiful photos!
Interesting topic.
I really like horses!
A long time ago I rode on horseback, it is an unforgettable experience!


I love horses too. I will post as many as I can! Thank you for commenting.

Neat! My sister's farm runs on horse power. I was surprised to find out that the horses are so old. Some of them are well over 20 years.

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The big horses will live an average 20-25 years and smaller breeds will get into their 30s. There are always some that live longer than the average. I was surprised to read they are making a comeback on organic farms.

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