8
Sep
2014
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it's all about me; mclaughlin clydesdales; renfrew fair; heavy horse

Heavy horsing around

This weekend a dream of mine came true: I rode in a 6 horse hitch.

You may know that I have a slight obsession with heavy horses. I’m actually a little surprised no farms have reported a crazy blonde chick following them around shooting pictures of their hitches every weekend.

Heavy horses, also referred to as draft horses, have fascinated me for a long time. Percherons, Clydesdales and Belgians are all gentle giants. They are powerful yet graceful. When they trot by the ground rumbles beneath you. There is synergy between driver and team.

I travel to a number of local fairs each year and spend hours ring side. I usually pretend I’m a judge making mental notes about what I saw in each hitch. Cause ya know, when you have zero experience with these beauties it makes you totally qualified to place them.

My camera is always in tow to capture their beauty. After the Shawville Fair a couple of weeks ago, I raced home to upload my pictures and video. Shoftly after posting them I got a note from Amber & Ray McLaughlin of McLaughlin Clydesdales asking if I would like to ride in their hitch at the Renfrew Fair. I was squealing louder than a pig getting its tail pulled.

Without thinking about it another second I responded excitedly. This girl’s dream was about to come true.

I had a week to plan which isn’t good for an overachieving perfectionist. There was a wardrobe, hair, fedoras, etc to sketch out. What?? Heavy horse hitches are just as coordinated as my #OOTD ya know. And cameras. I had to capture as much of it as I could.

The morning of the show arrived with torrential downpours. I couldn’t believe Mother Nature would do this to me. Seriously, does she not know it’s all about me? But just like my friends at the Ottawa Marriott had promised me on twitter, the clouds started to break around 11 am and the sun peeked through.

I arrived at the fair a couple of hours before the show. Looking like a kindergarten student on the first day of school with my oversized backpack hanging past my butt, I headed straight for the barns. This is where the magic started.

The amount of work that goes into getting a hitch ready is enormous. There are wagons to polish, bums to decal and tacking up to be done. I was so green I didn’t even think to offer to help. Instead I ran around taking pictures of everyone else doing the work and setting up GoPros.

it's all about me; mclaughlin clydesdales; renfrew fair; heavy horse

it's all about me; mclaughlin clydesdales; renfrew fair; heavy horse

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it's all about me; renfrew fair; mclaughlin clydesdales; heavy horses

it's all about me; mclaughlin clydesdales; renfrew fair; heavy horse

it's all about me; mclaughlin clydesdales; renfrew fair; heavy horse

After an hour and a half or so later, the hitch was ready. Not so gracefully I made my way into the co-pilot seat.

it's all about me; mclaughlin clydesdales; renfrew fair; heavy horse

The last conscious thought I had was, “stay out of Ray’s way”. A driver holds about 60 feet of reins that weight ~40 pounds controlling almost 12,000 pounds of horse in their hands. I needed to stay out of his way.

The rest goes like this:

It probably went against all protocols but I rode with my camera. I wanted to capture what it was like from inside the ring as best I much as possible.

it's all about me; mclaughlin clydesdales; renfrew fair; heavy horses

The man himself, Ray McLaughlin.

it's all about me; renfrew fair; mclaughlin clydesdales; heavy horses

My view

it's all about me; mclaughlin clydesdales; renfrew fair; heavy horses

Scott McClintock was kind enough to give up his co-pilot seat to let me ride

it's all about me; mclaughlin clydesdales; renfrew fair; heavy horses

McLaughlin Clydesdales crew being acknowledged during line-up.

Remember I mentioned GoPros? Well, here’s a view of driving from ground level:

McLaughlin Clydesdales came out of the ring with a third place finish. Spectacular in my mind considering they had a rookie co-pilot breaking all the rules.

There was actually a third GoPro set up but with all the excitement and distractions, my pea-brain forgot to turn it on.

For me this experience was more thrilling than any midway ride. I still have a shit-eating grin on my face. A heartfelt thank you to Ray, Amber and their entire crew for making one of my dreams come true. You all made me feel so welcomed. It was truly special.

it's all about me; mclaughlin clydesdales; renfrew fair; heavy horses

Oh, and when I win the lottery you’re all invited to ride on my hitch. Hey, a girl can dream can’t she?

Want to see these beautiful horses live? The Carp Fair is September 25 – 28 where there promises to be another incredible display. I have a family package to the fair up for grabs. Enter here.

This post was later published on OttawaCommunityNews.Com.

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8 Responses

    1. If you’re around the heavy horse ring at all Tracy, you’ll definitely see me. I’ll be the ring master assistant running back and forth in the middle of the ring :) Will have to get E up close to the gentle giants.

      xo

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