The Carlaw Clydes have done it again, earning high honours at a recent event in California to wrap up the show season.
The local clydes, owned and trained by the McGibbons family, represented Cranbrook at the 28th annual Draft Horse Classic in Grass Valley, California, where they placed 3rd in the six-horse hitch and 3rd in the team class.
It’s the third time the Carlaw Clydes have been to the Grass Valley show, and it’s always a great time, said Doug McGibbons.
“The people down there, the exhibitors, the spectators, everybody is so happy to see us there, they treat us so well, it’s unbelievable. You kind of have to shake your head to see if you’re in the same world,” McGibbons said.
“Saturday night, when we went in on the six-horse hitch, the grandstand was extremely full. There was a crowd there like I’ve never seen before and it was like being at a rock concert. They were so excited to see the hitches and the way they were performing, it was really something else.
“You don’t get to experience that too often. Every time you come by, you get a big roar from the crowd and of course, the horses want to go a bit more and you hang on. It makes for quite a show. It’s quite impressive.”
In addition to the third place results, the Carlaw crew claimed the title of the top junior, as Dominique Waugh took first-place honours. A few other members of the team included Lawrence McGibbon, Caroline McGibbon and Liz Kig.
Though it may be a 1,000-mile trip into a different country, McGibbons added that Grass Valley shares many similar geographic and historical similarities with Fort Steele.
“It’s got a very similar history to Fort Steele area. It’s all from gold [rush], lots of pine trees and it’s got a very rich gold background down there,” he said.
“I think they were right in the middle of it there, was the California gold rush. They’ve got a big water cannon, like you see at Fort Steele, right on the edge of town by the fairgrounds.
“A museum is there with a lot of the gold mining history. Then we were actually, in all places, in a pizza place to buy some pizza one day, and they had a whole bunch of pictures that you would think you were at Fort Steele on the wall hung around.”
The show season has ended for the Carlaw Clydes, which has had a successful run at events like the Calgary Stampede and the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver.
The Carlaw team picked up first place in the four-horse hitch in Calgary and took the same honour at the PNE after that.
“Winning the four at Calgary was probably our biggest deal of the year,” said McGibbons. “The guy that we beat there, he had spent $100,000 for five horses and we beat him, so that was pretty impressive. Hard to get by those guys.
“In the six, we had a new horse and he gave us some issues, so we didn’t do so well in the six. That’s the way things seem to go in the horse world. Had he not messed up, we’d have probably been in the top few there, but we’re still getting some kinks out of the new horses.”
The PNE was another successful show, albeit an exhausting one, as the team participated in the judging events before sticking around for two weeks of demonstrations. Starting early in the morning, the team did two demonstrations a day, often ending the day just before midnight.
“So after two weeks, it wears you down,” McGibbons said. “And the horses do two 15-minute demonstrations every day, plus they’re right out in front of the crowd, facing the crowd, so they don’t get a lot of sleep like ordinarily would, through the day.
“Fifteen minutes doesn’t sound like much, but for them, they’re 2,000 pounds and we like to have lots of action and it takes a lot of energy out of them to do it every time.”
The show season may be over, but the Carlaw Clydes are already preparing for one of the biggest events next year—the World Clydesdale Show in London, Ontario in September 2015. The McGibbons have been to two of the previous world shows that were hosted in Wisconsin.