One of the Calgary Stampede’s true heritage competitions – the World Championship Six Horse Hitch Competition presented by Halliburton – has been around for quite a while. This year’s highlight of the 127-year old Heavy Horse Show was run under what might be called ‘heritage’ conditions.
Early on Monday morning, just as the nine teams of high-stepping, heavy horses entered in this year’s World Championship Six Horse Hitch Competition presented by Halliburton began to parade in front of the judges, it began to rain. In previous years, the competition was indoors, but this year it was being held in the infield in front of the Grandstand.
“It was kind of fun,” said a very damp Josh Minshull after he stepped down from the driver’s seat of the Express Clydesdales entry that is the 2013 World Championship Six Horse Hitch team. “It was a different scenario – different from normal. It was tight and you had to manoeuvre around the cones. It just happened that our horses negotiated it really well.”
“I was thinking before that it would be cool to win this year because we’ll say, “Remember when we showed outside? It carried a little bit more memory.”
A panel of three judges rated Monday’s nine teams – Percherons, Belgians and Clydesdales – for conformation, presentation, driving and reinsmanship. Second was another American team – that of Brian Thiel from Pleasant Grove, CA. The Rose Hill Stable’s Percherons earned third in the final standings.
This year’s winning outfit probably would have had a shot at the ‘long distance award’, if there was such a thing. Based in Yukon, Oklahoma – just outside Oklahoma City – Minshull says coming to the Stampede before the event was a definite go wasn’t as big a gamble as it might seem. “We were coming up anyway to do the Grandstand exhibition every night,” he explains. “We brought extra horses because we wanted to bring our good show horses.”
The Express Clydesdales won the 2009 Six Horse Hitch World Championship presented by Halliburton, and have a busy appearance and competition schedule. “We do 30 to 50 events per year serving as marketing ambassadors for Express Employment Professionals,” Minshull says.
The Stampede is actually my favourite event to go to all year,” insists Minshull. “It carries a lot of prestige. It brings in a lot of good competition from everywhere. It’s a big event. We were lucky it all worked out. If it had been a little later, we probably wouldn’t have been able to show. We just got it in in the nick of time. We’re happy about that.”