By MELISSA HART
East Lansing, Mich. — The MSU Livestock Pavilion was rumbling with the sound of eight-horse hitches as they entered the arena for the 43rd Annual Michigan Great Lakes International Draft Horse Show (MGLI) held Oct. 17-20 in East Lansing. The gentle giants came from coast to coast and three Canadian provinces to compete in one of the largest draft horse shows in the world.
Each day the event was filled with halter classes, hitch classes and riding classes in addition to horse pulling in the evenings. Attendees were able to traverse the aisles to see the massive horses up close and person and watch as the horses were hitched and put through their paces. Outside, furrows were made during the plowing competition as teams of horses took their turn at turning up the dirt, the old fashioned way. There was also an obstacle course set up as teams were put through their paces around the outdoor arena. A full trade show featured horse tack, western clothing and jewelry and farm supplies of all kinds.
Traveling from Colorado, Enos Yoder exhibited at the MGLI for the first time. “I had heard about this show for many years and we were in Georgia showing and so I wanted to come up here and see what was here.” The Yoders had been on the road for a month leaving Colorado and showing two weekends in Utah, then a weekend in Georgia and rounding out their month-long show circuit in East Lansing. “I’ve always loved showing horses and competing and it’s a family thing.”
In addition to his 40 breeding mares, Yoder has a hay business in Colorado where they put up 40,000 small square bales and “Lots and lots of big squares,” Yoder commented. In January, the Yoders will go to the National Western Stock Show in Denver, then to Loveland and end up at a show in Florida.
The Mid-Michigan show is an attractive venue for Ontario breeders. Steve Gregg, who is the third generation on their Ontario farm, has always bred Clydesdales and loves to show. “It’s a hobby and we just want to continue to breed the best stock that we can.” As Gregg led his yearling filly into the show ring, he mentioned that he shoes horses for a living and has over 40 brood mares at home.
A draft horse enthusiast from Elmwood, Ontario, Howard Budd said he was new to the horse business. “I retired from dairy farming 14 years ago and moved to a new farm, bought a team of horses and learned how to harness the team and plow with them. We threshed our own wheat and put up our own straw,” Budd commented.
With three geldings, Budd enjoys working with heavy horses, “We take our horses out in parades any time we can. We belong to a draft horse club and enjoy being involved.”
The winner of the Elite Eight All Breeds Eight Horse Hitch class was Marlin Miller of New Paris, Ind., while Ross Honsberger of Little Jackson Hole, Wyo., won the Classic Series Six Horse Hitch Class. In the Lightweight Horse Pulling competition, Robert W. Howard of Acme, Pa., pulled out a first place while Terry Yoder of Lake Panasofekee, Fla., won the Heavyweight Horse Pulling contest.
In the plowing contest, Paul Vanderlaan of Walker, Mich., won the Walking Plow contest and was the Champion Overall Plowman while John Thorn of Augusta, Mich., won the Single Bottom Riding Plow and Larry Newman and Blake Griffin of Battle Creek, Mich., won the Farm Team Hitch division.
The winner of the Men’s Farm Hitch Obstacle Course was Kurt Doneth, Durand, Mich., while Sandy and Greg Southwell of Eaton Rapids, Mich., won the Ladies Farm Hitch Obstacle Course and Cara Robison of East Lansing., was the youth winner.
Dr. Joseph Hunt of Carleton, Mich., swept the Mule Hitch classes winning the Eight, Six, Four, Two and Unicorn Hitch and the Three-Abreast Hitch. Joe Wickey of Centreville, Mich., won the Ladies Mule Cart and Sandy and Greg Southwell won the Mule Tandem Class.
Hosting 330 exhibitors with 1,200 draft horses from 30 states and three Canadian provinces, the MGLI is the only event in the world to feature halter classes, hitching, plowing, pulling and riding for draft horse breeds and mules at the same time in the same location. The breed shows included Shires, Percherons, Clydesdales and Belgians.
20: Teams of draft horses enjoyed plowing under sunny skies at the Michigan Great Lakes International Draft Horse Show.
16: Visitors enjoyed taking selfies with the cooperative draft horses.
10: A large class of Clydesdale yearlings adds to the attraction for breeders who enjoy steep competition from breeders from coast to coast.
1: Getting the feathers just right on a Clydesdale is an important aspect of showing their breed character.