For the love of draft horses

Siblings Kyle and Emily Lang of Mountain’s Edge Farm in Hinesburg compete in the Draft Horse Show at the Champlain Valley Fair on Aug. 27. Photo by Lynn Monty.

Locals head up horse show at Champlain Valley Fair

The ground shook as draft horses, weighing about a ton apiece, entered the show ring at the Champlain Valley Fair the last weekend in August. “Rolling thunder,” Ring Master Karen Myers called it.

Myers, of Ferrisburgh, grew up in Charlotte. She gave commands to the teamsters during the Draft Horse Show at the fair. She knew what Judge Hugh Meehan of Carp, Ontario, wanted to see. He’s been a judge for about six years, scrutinizing the performance of the horses, how they drive in unison and how they are handled and presented during events.

“They are truly gentle giants, and they make your butt look smaller when you are riding them,” Myers joked. “They are a good, all-purpose horse.”

Camaraderie and laughter filled the sidelines. Myers said it’s a big family of draft-horse lovers.

Rose-Ann Lombard of Charlotte has been a show superintendent for the draft-horse events at the fair for about a decade. She shares the responsibilities with Rick Fletcher of Jeffersonville.

“It sugared off that I do the paperwork and scheduling and he takes over the grounds and building prep and we go over both together,” Lombard said. “It’s not a high-stress fair. This show is a fun show. In the draft world everybody helps each other.”

Lombard is secretary of the Green Mountain Draft Horse Association. She’s been involved with the association since 1988 and was elected president in 1999. She served in that capacity for 14 years.

Draft horses were used on Lombard’s family farm where she grew up in Hinesburg. “Their uses have changed a lot over the years now, but we have farms like Unity Farm that still use them for farming. They still mow with them and other things. Pat Palmer of New Haven uses his for a trash route,” she said. “The majority have been replaced with machines, and now they are a pleasure item. They do parades, sleigh rides and weddings instead of plowing or hauling freight.”

There is a youth class of 17 years and younger at the show. “A lot of young adults here have grown up showing in this ring,” Lombard said. “That’s what’s exciting for us—to see them now. It makes us proud.”

Jeremy Lang, 18, of Hinesburg hugged Lombard as he prepped Piper, a gelding, for the show with his brother and sister, Kyle, 16, and Emily, 13. “It’s a bond,” Jeremy Lang said. “We all work so hard together, as a family and the horses together.”

Lombard said all three of the Lang children grew up competing in her ring. Their family owns Mountain’s Edge Farm in Hinesburg. “We are so proud of them, and this weekend these three are doing all of the work involved, which means washing the wagon, getting the horses all ready, braiding and harnessing and all of that,” she said. “It’s a testament to the skills of these three because their parents had another commitment for the weekend.”

Lang said, “It’s a real honor for our parents to trust us to do all of this. We are representing our farm here.”

For more information visit the Green Mountain Draft Horse Association website.