A Texas Draft Horse Show
Story and Photos by
Lyn Odom-Cherenzia

Deanna Bailey riding Jester in the Costume Class

On October 11th and 12th the Texas Draft Horse Mule Association (TDHMA) held it’s annual show at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton, Texas. There are over 130 members of the TDHMA and several of them made the show this year. There was a huge class list including halter classes for fillies, mares, geldings and stallions and then performance classes including: gentleman’s cart, junior cart, two horse show hitch, novice ladies cart, unicorn hitch, ladies show team, novice men’s cart, tandem cart, costume, ride-a-draft, single horse pleasure driving, ladies cart, four horse hitch, junior farm team, amateur team driving, farm team, farm team obstacle, single horse obstacle, junior single horse obstacle, team ground driving, single horse log pull, junior single horse log pull and team og pull. The judge was an out of state draft man from Colorado, Bob Olsen.

Several breeds of drafts made it into the show ring. There were Percherons, Belgians, Clydesdales, Suffolk Punch,

Rodney Read driving his Suffolk Punch, Alex in the Single Log Skid

Shires, Spotted Drafts and a gray Draft Mule names Rosie. TDHMA members are spread all over Texas and may have anywhere from a team of horses to over fifty head. There were even some visiting teamsters from down under and Australians did very well in the farm class competitions borrowing a team of Suffolk’s from their friends David and Francis Hitchcock. The TDHMA was delighted for their guest appearance and had a special trophy made up for the Aussie team who proudly flew their flag on the wagon during competition.

L to R: Dick Curtis on Rosie and Betty May on Sam waiting for the results of the Ride A Draft Class

The single and team obstacle course was especially challenging this year. Each teamster driving either a single horse cart or a team on a wagon is required to cross several obstacles, and quickly. Timing each competitor acts as the tiebreaker should a teamster have a clean run. Throughout the course are cones with tennis balls on top. These serve as boundaries and points are deducted if the balls are knocked off or the cones run over. This year the drivers were required to first cross the bridge (a sheet of plywood) that most of the drafts took well. Next on the course was a large blue tarp that hung from the arena ceiling. It was low enough that the horses and driver would have to duck to get under it. This was quite challenging for most of the horses, but with patience and know-how the majority of the teamsters drove through it. This was the obstacle that really told who spends the most time in the wagon seat. It took a lot of trust on the horse’s part to pass under a flapping tarp that then slid down the back making a crinkling noise. The teamsters continued on through the course having to parallel park, back up in a 90% obstacle, weave through cones, and get a golf ball from one mail box to another on the other side of the arena.

Thomas Hicks put on a wonderful demonstration with his four-horse hitch of Belgians and Mike Griffith showed how it’s done when he hitched his pair of gray percherons tandem. Dee Gentry won the ride a draft on her Belgian, Buck, but not without some stiff competition from the other twelve riders and the fact that Rosie the mule, ridden by Dick Curtis, was doing her part in trying to steal the show. Mark Horsburgh, from Australia, drove the Suffolks well in the amateur team driving and Stacy McClendon drove her gray percheron, Snoopy, into first place in the junior single horse obstacle class. David Hitchcock won the team ground driving and Rodney Read put his Suffolk Punch, Alex, cleanly through the single horse log skid. It was a pleasure to watch Jennifer Kuhn drive her spotted draft, Tammy Jean, in the pleasure driving

Dee Gentry on Buck wins the Ride A Draft Class

class and Darlene Hicks won first place in the ladies cart class driving her Belgian, Spike. Jim Smith’s percherons competed beautifully in all their classes and took home a handful of ribbons. Carol Curtis, Connie Young, Gay Penak, Linda Pritchart and Dee Gentry won’t be showing in the novice ladies cart for long after having seen their driving talents. Maurice Young and Larry Allen drove really well in the men’s novice cart. Wilton and Betty McKelvey, Teresa McClendon, Deana Bailey, Mandy Myers, Amanda Tucker, Holly Bartz, Sharon Smith, Mica Young, Ali Hegler, Steve and Danielle Wisieski, Kathleen Taylor, Becky McGuire, Sharon Smith, Peggy Allen, Terry Bailey and Dora Gentry rounded out the competition all taking home ribbons and trophies.

This year Rodney Read stepped down from his 10 years of being the TDHMA Show Chairman and Jim Smith was elected as the new President of the TDHMA at the annual meeting that was held in November in Temple, Texas. A moment of silence was given at both the show in Belton and the annual meeting in Temple for Ann Aylsworth of Twin Creek Clydesdales and Lyle King. Ann was a long time member of the TDHMA and a worthy competitor. Ann passed away doing what she loved most, showing her beautiful Clydesdale horses.

Watch The Horse Gazette for upcoming events of the TDHMA. There will be clinics, hay days, plowing matches, farm shows and the annual show that brings in the draft horse folks from all over the state of Texas. Come and watch working farm horses strut their stuff and see the big horses do what they do best…pound the ground with real horsepower. To contact the association call Jim Smith at 817-866-3647 or email: cart@hpnc.com.

David Hitchcock's Suffolks, Thunder & Lightening competing in the Team Obstacle Class
Junior Single Obstacle Class, Stacy McClendon driving her gray Percheron, Snoopy
Mike Griffith driving his gray Percheron, Captain in the Men's Cart Class

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