Posts Tagged ‘Merrickville Fair’


Sharing the ring with the Miniature horses at the Merrickville fair was a draft horse show. This made for a curious juxtaposition of tiny horses and giants, but the show secretary noted that alternating the classes from one group to the other allowed everyone more time for the time-consuming process of harnessing. The morning halter classes featured Belgians, and Percherons such as the grey above.

Percherons have their roots in France, where the breed originated in La Perche, a district of Normandy. Through the Middle Ages and 18th and 19th centuries, Andulusian, Arabian and English Thoroughbred blood was introduced to the Percheron breed. In 1823, a horse named Jean Le Blanc was foaled in Le Perche and all of today’s Percheron bloodlines trace back to this horse. Percherons were first imported into the United States in 1939. As modern equipment displaced draft horses on farms, the numbers of draft horses plummeted. Interest in draft horses was renewed through the 1960s and numbers have rebounded, with draft horses popular for recreational purposes such as sleigh and hay rides and work around small farms, as well as showing.


While bays and sorrels can be registered, most Percherons are black or grey. In contrast, Belgians are usually a light chestnut or sorrel colour, with flaxen mane and tail. As the name suggests, the Belgian originated in the country of Belgium. Through the 1800s, the breed was promoted by the Belgian government, and breeding stock was exported to other countries. In 1903, interest in Belgians was generated in the United States when the government of Belgium sent exhibits of horses to the St. Louis World’s Fair and the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago. As with other draft horses, a decline in numbers through the 50s was followed by a draft horse renaissance thereafter.


One of the most impressive events to witness is the 6-horse hitch class. At Merrickville, there were two teams, one of Belgians and one of Percherons. The Belgians were the entry of the Kelly Farm.

belgian hitch


The Percherons were the entry of the Greir Family.



When the teams trot by, you can feel the ground shake. Awesome!


Read Full Post »


Nicholas and Flash

On Sunday, the Merrickville Fair was the scene of a Miniature Horse Show. Miniature horses are a fairly recent addition to the horse scene. It was only in 1978 that the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) was founded to establish minis as a seperate breed of horse. The American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR) was established a bit earlier, in 1972, as a division of the American Shetland Pony Club. In the AMHA, Miniatures cannot exceed 34 inches at the withers, the point at which the mane ends at the back. In the AMHR, there are A and B divisions, for Miniatures under 34 inches and 34 to 38 inches, respectively. Are Minatures really small horses or ponies? Some certainly are more horse-like than others. Wherever you might stand on that issue, one thing can be agreed upon: they sure are cute!


I met Nicholas and Flash not long before their class. Nicholas made his show ring debut in the Junior Showmanship 10-years-old and Under class at the Merrickville show. Nicholas did a fine job! He and Flash won fourth place in their first outing.


It’s easy to see the appeal of Miniatures. Many horse owners have limited interest in riding. They just love horses! A full-sized horse requires a significant amount of space for proper maintenance. Of course, everything else is proportionally large as well: a large amount of hay, a large horse trailer for transport, a large amount of cleanup! With minis, everything is more easily managed. Take transportation, for instance. A medium-sized truck can easily transport a whole herd of minis. This gives a whole new meaning to the term “minivan”.


You don’t have to be a child to enjoy a Miniature horse, as was demonstrated by the turnout for the Miniature Single Cart class. Here is one contestant being harnessed up.


It was clear that the owners of minis derived a lot of pleasure from their charges. Look at the smiles on the faces of these competitors.


happy driver

There were twelve entries in the class. Here they are lined up for the judge.


The winner of the class was the white mini, Minibrook’s Native Dancer, with Golddust placing second.


Read Full Post »