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If the only time you've seen a one-ton horse is in a beer commercials, the Porter County Fair will give you a chance to take an up-close look at two Draft Horse Shows.

According to Dr. Duane Wilcox, equine veterinarian and horse show volunteer, the events are free and very worthwhile.

The 4-H Draft Horse Show begins at 9 a.m. July 21 in the Horse and Pony Arena, where 4-H members show single horses and teams of two trotting around various obstacles.

“It’s quite impressive that these kids can handle such large horses,” said Wilcox. “Plus, the horses are so well behaved.”

Visit the Horse and Pony Arena at 5 p.m. July 28 for the main Open Draft Horse Show. Known as the “big” show, the Open Draft Horse Show features Percheron, Belgian, and Clydesdale horses.

“All three breeds weigh over 2,000 pounds each, or as the announcer likes to say, ‘a team of six horses is six tons of horse,' ” Wilcox said.

Wilcox and his wife, Beth, both most recently of Mokena, Illinois, are very familiar with the big horses, as they have and show 10 Percherons. They’ve been showing Percherons since their son was in fourth grade, and he is now 20.

Wilcox said participants come to the Porter County Fair Open Draft Horse Show from all over the U.S. Entrants for this year’s show hail from Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. “The horses earn points, based on how they show, and a certain accumulation of points allows them to qualify for and go on to the national competition,” he said.

Show categories include: Ladies’ Cart Class, Men’s Cart Class, Team Class (two horses to the wagon), single horses with a cart, Team Unicorn four-horse hitches and six-horse hitches. Then, there are fancy hitches with decorations on the horses’ manes and tails, fancy wagons, and farm teams (up to a four-horse hitch).

Fees are charged per horse, and participants may enter in as many classes as they want. There is $2,500 in prize money available in each class, split among all participants that place. The classic six-horse hitch is awarded the most because more horses, equipment, and investment are necessary, said Wilcox.

Wilcox noted that there will be six, six-horse hitches in competition this year. “The six-horse hitches typically go between 5:30 and 6 p.m. during the show,” he said. “Those are the ones most people like to watch.”

For more information, visit portercountyfair.com.

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