'Coming soon: Really big horses

All the top teams' are coming to Britt, Iowa

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

BRITT, Iowa -- Some; of the biggest and fanciest horses in the country will be at the Hancock County Fairgrounds Aug. 30 through Sept. 1 for the Britt Draft Horse Show.

The show features 18 six-horse hitches in the United States and Canada, representing the best of the Belgian, Percheron and Clydesdale performance horses, said Melodie Hiscocks, secretary-treasurer of the Britt Draft Horse Association.


Held at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday the grandstand shows offer competition in men's and ladies' cart, team, unicorn, 4-horse and 6-horse Classic Series.

At the Sunday show, the Supreme 6-horse hitch is chosen. Weekend events also include junior classes, a driving competition, 8-horse class and halter classes.

The Britt Draft Horse Show is one of the recognized qualifying shows on the North American Six Horse Hitch Classic Series show circuit, Hiscocks said.

Each year, more than 250 hitch owners travel across the United States and Canada to perform at state fairs and agricultural exhibitions to accumulate points for the Classic Series.

The high-point hitches are invited to compete for the Classic Series All Breed Trophy to be presented at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Mass., in September.

"The Britt Horse Show is one of the last qualifying shows of the year, and all the top teams come to compete,'' Hiscocks said.

Sunday afternoon spectators will get to see all 18 6-horse hitches parading around the arena at one time.

"It's very spectacular to see all the horses,'' Hiscocks said. "You can't really see that anywhere else.''


This year's draft horse hitches will be coming from Louisiana, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois. There will be three hitches from Minnesota and six from Iowa.

The show was first organized in 1982 when a group of local draft horse enthusiasts felt a draft horse show would be an interesting type of performance for the area, Hiscocks said. With the help of two local industries who helped design and build portable stalls for the horses, the first show was held in 1982.

The show is run by volunteers and depends on the help of local and area businesses, organizations and individuals.

The fairgrounds open at 7 a.m. each day and the public is welcome to come early to have a chance to wander through the barns and visit with the crews.

Spectators can also visit the commercial building with booths offering everything from souvenir T-shirts and commemorative belt buckles, to model hitches, ceramics, paintings, livestock equipment and many other items.

Food is available on the grounds, and there are camping facilities.

The Britt Draft Horse Show is featured in the video, "Gentle Giants: Window to Our Heritage,'' funded in part by a grant from the Iowa Humanities Board and the National Endowment for the Arts.

This year's commemorative belt buckle, designed by Ted Bieth of Plymouth, commemorates the harnessmaker, Hiscocks said. Bieth has designed belt buckles for 17 of the horse shows.


Special to this year's show will be a draft horse hitch exhibition by Dick Sparrow of Zearing, known for assembling 40-horse hitches. His performance will end with a stagecoach run.

Sparrow's sons, Paul and Robert and their families, are competing in the show.

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