The Southern Plains Six Horse Hitch Showdown this weekend at the Oklahoma State Fair will feature teams of Clydesdales, Belgians, Percherons, shires and other draft horses from across the country and Canada.
This is not a draft horse pull that demonstrates sheer horsepower. The competition focuses on style, appearance and teamwork.
“We want a team that works together,” said Josh Minshull, general manager of Express Clydesdales. “We want uniformity in the hitch so when we look at the six-horse hitch from a profile view, we want to see three horses.”
Placement of horses in a team is important.
“Just like us, horses are right- or left-hand dominant. They've got sides they work on,” Minshull said. “We train them for both sides, all positions, but they have a particular place they like to be.”
Minshull compares his hitch to a basketball team. The horses have different sizes and abilities that factor into where they are placed in the hitch.
“Bigger, stronger (horses) pull the majority of the load” so they are closer to the back, closer to the wheels, Minshull said.
The smaller horses are in the rows out front, leading the team.
“They would be point guards,” Minshull said.
The hitches also are judged on overall appearance, meaning the time spent prepping and primping the horses really matters.