100-plus draft horses from across the US enter Brookings

Dakota Royal Charity Draft Horse Show
Farm Forum

Volunteers from many states are prepared to welcome over 100 head of Belgian, Percheron, Shire and Clydesdale draft horses to the Dakota Royal Charity Draft Horse Show to be held indoors at the Swiftel Center June 24 and 25 at 1 p.m. daily. The one ton draft horse athletes traveling from across the U.S. will compete in the only South Dakota qualifying show competition for the North American Classic Six Horse Hitch Series.

The show ring is installed, ample dirt has been smoothed to provide good footing for the tons of trotting action, and over 600 bags of sawdust are on hand to ensure the gentle giants are comfortable upon their arrival to their spacious stalls at the Swiftel Center complex.

Most six horse hitches and their historic wagons travel to the South Dakota show in one or two semi trailers. Parking for the large trucks and support vehicles is a staging process. Up to 15 six horse hitches may arrive within 24 hours, day or night, depending on the travel arrangements. Volunteers prepared to answer any questions welcome them and coordinate stalling details for smooth unloading.

Barn managers say that during the show, a ‘quiet barn’ rule from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is honored. Crews and horses need rest to be ready for all the daily preparations a show of this national level requires. During sunrise horse exercise time, each draft horse has its stall cleaned. Preshow prep includes massages for some horses, grooming every inch of the one-ton athletes, braiding manes and tails, harnessing the horses and polishing the historic wagons. The draft horses also get two baths, one before and one after each performance. The washing areas are busy and sure replace any gym workout a crew member might have missed while traveling.

The Brookings show is unique by starting the six horse hitch competition at 1 p.m. daily, as its first class, so don’t be late. Over 60 draft horses will be in the ring for the six horse hitch placing. Additional hitch classes of fours, unicorns, teams, carts, ladies and youth, along with farm team contests will provide plenty of show ring action. With three judges evaluating classes, the drivers of the six horse hitches and farm teams know the Brookings show is one of the most competitive in the U.S. Bring your pencil, take notes in the show program and see how you do judging as these proud equines and skilled drivers show off in the ring.

Tickets are available at the door the day of the show. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 11 and under. With free parking, AC comfort, stadium seating and an elevator, a multi-generation family afternoon is easy. Learn more about the show, horses and crews from across the U.S. traveling to Brookings via the Facebook at http://bit.ly/2rnqIUU. Be sure to visit the barns after each show to meet the gentle giant draft horses and their drivers. A great family weekend for all ages!