The thundering rumble of heavy horses hooves is in Brandon this weekend for the 2023 World Clydesdale Show and World Heavy Horseshoeing Championship.
Charity Thevenot, one of the show’s organizers, is a fourth-generation Clydesdale breeder. Thevenot, who hails from Strathclair, Man., and exhibits with Boulder Bluff Clydesdales, brought 16 horses to the show.
Her family’s passion for the gentle giants inspired them to help organize and bring the World Clydesdale Competition to the Wheat City.
“There are many other shows you go to that have the three major draft breeds — Percherons, Belgians and Clydesdales — and sometimes it’s just nice to separate the breeds and see how they compete against just their own breed,” Thevenot said.
“We like showcasing the Clydesdales.… They’re nice to work with and I think people, spectators, really enjoy them.”
There are more than 350 horses registered in the show for its first-ever appearance in Brandon at the Keystone Centre from July 19-23. The horses compete in different events including team races, horse hitches and barrel racing.
The heavy horses have a presence that people can feel, Thevenot said. People hear their thundering hooves before they see them enter the ring and that gets people excited.
“They’re just a very powerful, impressive animal. And so I think people really are in awe by them,” Thevenot said.
“Working with them, many of them are very gentle, they’re known as gentle giants by a lot of people…. People really like wandering through the barns and getting to get kind of up close to them.”
The World Clydesdale Show partnered with World Heavy Horseshoeing Championship to give people a taste of the work that goes into caring for heavy horses.
“A lot of people don’t get to see that. They like it,” Thevenot said. “A lot of local people in Brandon enjoy the heavy horses.… A lot of people would maybe like to come and see them.
“We’ve brought some aspects that people maybe don’t see all the time.”
Jonathan Green helped organize the World Heavy Horseshoeing Competition with 40 people competing from nine teams. Green says it’s good for farriers to showcase for the public how horseshoes are made and put onto animals.
The competition acts as continuing education for many farriers, Green said. They get to work with judges from around the world and their peers to test their skills and hone their craft.
It has been great showcasing this international level of farrier skills in Brandon, he said.
Green lives in the Winnipeg area but used to call Western Manitoba home. Getting to show off his former home has been a highlight of the show, he said.
“It gives the local farriers an opportunity to step up into the international scene,” Green said. “It’s been really good … to see that.”
During the competition, farriers build shoes from traditional straight bar stock and then place them on a heavy horse within a set time limit. The shoes are fit to a judge’s specifications who then asses the quality of the craftsmanship.
The competition is unique because of the sheer size of the horses and their gigantic feet.
“The shoes and the steel we make them is much heavier, thicker steel, so it takes a lot more heat and effort to manipulate the steel to fit a foot,” Green said.
Thevenot says it’s great to have competitors from across the content because it is an opportunity to learn and see how other people work with their horses.
Exhibitors pick up tips and tricks from others, and for many, it’s an opportunity to watch people from different areas of the world work with their animals.
For Thevenot, a highlight of the week is hearing Manitoba competitors named winners by judges on the world stage. Whenever a Manitoban took home a title, the arena erupted in cheering from the stands.
“It’s just neat for people to see that there’s local people doing this sort of thing too and showing at this calibre,” Thevenot said. “They enjoy watching it.”