Six horse hitch race competition

Mesa county local team competes for spot at championships.
Published: May. 21, 2023 at 5:26 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - 11 teams, six horses each, one hitch, and some wild cowboys.

That’s the spirit of Mesa County’s Wild West Shootout Classic Six Horse Hitch show.

It’s a three-day event where each competing team will receive points.

All hope to rack up enough to make it to the world championships, “Which will be in Shipshewana, Indiana in September, the top five of every breed right now gets to advance to the championships,” said Dennis Clark from Clark Family Orchards. This is his fourth year competing in a horse hitch race throughout the country.

He says there are different draft horse breeds like Percherons, which are black and gray, and Belgians which are brown or blonde.

He’s competing against big performers like Yoders, Double S Belgians, and Young Living.

All who’ve qualified for the world finals in the last three to four years...

“Most of these horses weigh around a ton. They’re standing from 18 to 19 hands tall, which is six feet at the shoulder.” Said Clark.

That’s a lot of mass to upkeep.

Clark says in preparation for the show. The horses get a manicure, that includes filing the nails. Brush off the feet and finish off with a nice shiny topcoat. Or in this case shoe polish.

The hair is braided with accessories like flowers or bows. This beauty routine is costly, Clark says just the harnesses can run up to four thousand dollars...

“With that said there’s several hitches down the line here and then different barns that they probably got horses averaging $100,000 a horse in their head.” Said Clark.

A fair price for these showstoppers.

Clark says these horses don’t have time for funny business.

“These horses are ready to rock and roll. They’re animated. They’re there at a high-speed trot. Popping their heads up trying to their front hooves are trying to come up and slap their bellies.” Said Clark.

In an effort to explain the experience of steering a team like this, Clark said it’s comparable to having six race cars in front of you with the throttle stuck while you try to hold on.