The thunderous rumble of heavy horse hooves is in Brandon this weekend for the 2023 World Clydesdale Show and World Heavy Horseshoeing Championship.
Charity Thevenot, one of the organizers of the show, is a fourth generation Clydesdale breeder. Thevenot, a native of Strathclair, Man., and shows with Boulder Bluff Clydesdales, brought 16 horses to the show.
His family’s passion for gentle giants inspired them to help organize and bring the World Clydesdale Competition to Wheat City.
“There are many other shows you go to that have the three main draft breeds: Percherons, Belgians and Clydesdales, and sometimes it’s nice to separate the breeds and see how they compete against their own breed,” Thevenot said.
“We like to showcase the Clydesdales… They’re nice to work with and I think the people, the viewers, really enjoy them.”
There are more than 350 horses registered to the show for Brandon’s first appearance at the Keystone Center July 19-23. Horses compete in different events including team races, pulling horses, and barrel racing.
The heavy horses have a presence that people can feel, Thevenot said. People hear the noise of their hooves before seeing them enter the ring and that excites people.
“They are a very powerful and impressive animal. And I think people are really in awe of them,” Thevenot said.
“Working with them, a lot of them are very gentle, a lot of people know them as gentle giants… People really like to walk around the barns and get up close to them.”
The World Clydesdale Show teamed up with the World Heavy Horseshoeing Championship to give people an insight into the work that goes into caring for heavy horses.
“A lot of people don’t get to see that. They like it,” Thevenot said. “Lots of local people in Brandon enjoy heavy horses… Lots of people might like to come see them.
“We’ve brought in some aspects that people maybe don’t see all the time.”
Jonathan Green helped organize the World Heavy Horseshoe Competition with 40 people competing from nine teams. Green says it’s good for farriers to show the public how horseshoes are made and how they are attached to animals.
The competition acts as continuing education for many farriers, Green said. They work with judges from around the world and their peers to test their skills and hone their craft.
It’s been great to show this international level of farrier skills on Brandon, he said.
Green lives in the Winnipeg area, but used to call western Manitoba home. Being able to show off her old house has been the highlight of the show, she said.
“It gives local farriers a chance to step up on the international scene,” Green said. “It’s been really cool…to see that.”
During competition, farriers build horseshoes out of traditional straight bars and then fit them onto a heavy horse within a set time limit. The shoes are made to the specifications of a judge who then assesses the quality of the craftsmanship.
The competition is unique due to the large size of the horses and their gigantic legs.
“The shoes and steel we make 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 all-content competitors because it’s an opportunity to learn and see how other people work with their horses.
Exhibitors collect tips and tricks from others, and for many, it’s a chance to see people from different parts of the world work with their animals.
For Thevenot, the highlight of the week is hearing Manitoba’s competitors name winners by the judges on the world stage. Every time a Manitoban took home a title, the arena erupted with cheers from the stands.
“It’s great for people to see that there are local people doing this kind of thing as well and showing this caliber,” Thevenot said. “They enjoy watching it.”