Britt Draft Horse Show 6

The crowd in the grandstand at the Hancock County Fairgrounds enjoys the Ladies' Cart competition during the Britt Draft Horse Show on Labor Day weekend. The cart in front is being driven by Kennedy Duechle for Biren Family Belgians of Iona, Minn. The cart in back is being driven by Annette Fielding for Highpoint Clydesdales from College Ward, Utah.

BRITT | Ronelle Ingram came all the way from California to attend this year's Britt Draft Horse Show after seeing it featured on the RFD TV.

Ingram said she had to look up Britt on the Internet to see where it was.

Her sister, who lives in Utah, came with her. They drove 4,000 miles to get to Britt for the three-day show, but Ingram said it was worth it.

"We have been smiling the whole time," she said. "These horses are magnificent."

Just before the grandstand show started on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, the announcer asked how many people in the crowd had been at the Britt Draft Horse Show all 36 years. A few hands went up.

A lot of hands were raised when the crowd was asked how many were there for the first time. 

During the first class of the day, Ladies' Cart, the women drove into the ring as the song "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" played.

The competitors had their horses walk, trot and reverse directions before they all lined up in the middle of the ring so the judges could get a close look at the animals.

The judges made their decisions based on the confirmation of the horses, whether they had a snappy trot and looked alert, and if they were easy-mannered and easy-going. 

Other categories featured during the show were Men's Cart, Unicorn (teams of three horses), and Two, Four and Six-Horse Hitches.

Some of those in the crowd came more than an hour before the show started to claim a spot in the stands. Others brought lawn chairs so they could sit in front of the stands.

Among them were John and Pat Malone of Ankeny. It was their first time at the event.

They saw draft horses at this year's Iowa State Fair and came to the Britt show for another chance to see Belgians, Clydesdales and the other horses known as "gentle giants."

John said he likes "the way they prance together."

"They seem to enjoy it, too," he said.

Ken Hays of Fort Dodge came to the show with his wife, Marquita, and their 7-year-old twin grandsons, Asher and Malachi.

Ken said he and Marquita used to bring their children to the show years ago.

Now they do "birthday trips" with their grandchildren. 

Since the twins' birthday happened to be during the Britt show, they decided to take them there.

The boys love farming and animals, according to Ken.

"The got to pet a couple of the horses," he said.

The competitors are really good about talking to the kids about the horses, he said. 

Ken said he also enjoyed watching the youth competition earlier in the day, which he had not seen before.

"We enjoy the atmosphere," he said. "Everyone is friendly."

Angela Dolan of Owatonna, Minn., brought her daughter, Lauralyn, 5, to the show. 

Lauralyn, who was wearing a pink cowgirl hat, was busy playing with some toy horses she brought with her while waiting for the grandstand show to start. 

Earlier in the day her mom took her to the horse barns.

"I got to pet one," Lauralyn said. "I petted Chief."

Eric and Emma Van Wyngarden from Pella were among those who watched the horses being groomed in one of the barns.

The couple were in Clarion for Labor Day weekend visiting Emma's parents, so they decided to drive up to Britt for the show.

"I haven't been here for 20 years maybe," Emma said. 

Her family had Belgians when she was growing up, but they weren't show horses. 

She said what she loves about the show is "all those beauties, dressed up and showing off."

"They are so big, so powerful," but so gentle that you feel safe around them, Emma said.

Leann Thompson of Rochester, Minn., decided to come to the Britt show after seeing draft horses at the Iowa State Fair.

"I find them fascinating," she said. "They are so beautiful, so large. I'm kind of awestruck by them."

Doug and Tina Love of Belmond were babysitting their grandsons from Ankeny -- Logan, 3, and Caleb, 1 -- on Labor Day weekend so they brought them to the show.

"He's all dressed up!" Logan said as a horse with its mane braided and decorated went by on the way to the grandstand.

Ingram watched the horses being prepared for the show. She said it takes six people to get one horse ready because they are so large, and grooming each horse takes an hour.

The horses' lower legs were wrapped up just like athletes before a game, Ingram noted

She said she wanted to come to the Britt show because "horses are my passion."

She said she loved the charming atmosphere at the show.

"This is better than going to Hawaii," Ingram said. "This is really unique Americana."

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