Two Tons of Fun: Draft Horses Show Off at AdventHealth Grandview Invitational

When you attend a horse show, you expect to see horse trailers. Two-horse trailers, four-horse, maybe even a big eight-horse slant pulled by an F-350 dual axle work truck.

At the AdventHealth Grandview Invitational Draft Horse Show, you won’t see a single regular horse trailer at all. Instead, 18-wheeler full-size trucks line the show grounds, each one capable of hauling 20 tons of horses and their weighty equipment. From Missouri to Vermont, New York and Wyoming, tractor-trailers hauled tons of Belgians, Percherons, and Clydesdales to Ocala for this year’s draft horse show.

Sunday, February 2nd was a breezy, cool day, and the crisp air that had spectators bundled up to watch classes made the horses alert and frisky. (Well, as frisky as draft horses get, that is.) Known for their low-key demeanors and calm personalities, these horses gazed around curiously, and still stood patiently for their grooms to touch up their hair color, braid their manes and tails, paint their hooves, and polish their coats. These Old World horses from Belgium, France, and Scotland have made the transition to the New World as both working and show horses. Draft horses across America still pull plows, haul logs out of forests and carry passengers.

On Sunday, the Belleview High School Junior ROTC presented the colors, and flags were carried in by a two-horse hitch replica stagecoach. Hundreds of spectators filled the bleachers and some people brought their own chairs. Whether attached to a single cart or pulling a full-size carriage or stagecoach, these horses entered the ring at a trot and thundered around the arena. Colorful ribbons snapped from their manes, and harnesses jingled as they stepped through a class. They were judged on gait, pace, control, appearance and willingness.

A vendor village enticed showgoers with a variety of wares, including horse-themed jewelry, CBD products, skin care regimes (for humans), and real estate information courtesy of Showcase Properties. Grandview Clydesdales, owned by Shannon and Karen Cobbs (the show’s organizers), even transported their heritage room complete with photos of their past winners and champion horses, pedigrees, chairs, paintings, rugs and trophies. It was an elegant touch in the barn area.

Classes slated over the weekend included Ladies Cart; Belgian, Percheron and Clydesdale hitches; unicorn classes (a three-horse hitch with one horse at the front); and an all-breed four abreast class. Judges for the weekend were David Light and Rod Kohler.

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