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 First Annual Central Coast Draft Horse and Driving Show a Success!
By Amber Kluga


By any and all standards the First Annual Central Coast Draft Horse and Driving Show (CCDHDS), May 22, 2004 at San Benito County Fairgrounds (Balado Park), was a great success.  35 competitors drove and rode over 65 horses in 22 class competitions; 31 business sponsors donated money, products and services; 20 vendor booths displayed everything from beautiful shiny new trucks to saddles and jewelry; and over 500 spectators filled the stands making for a busy and exhilarating day.  “We far exceeded our original goals and vision for this 1st show and the support from the community has been wonderful” says Suzy Caston, show director and one of the visionaries for this event.  “We not only had the local draft horse community participating but had competitors & spectators from the Central Valley and one competitor coming as far as 150 miles to be here today”.

The day started off with an in-hand halter class where the spectators were treated to the presentation of 18-hand 2000lb draft horses next to 32-inch 150lb mini horses.  Horses were judged against the standards of their breed in confirmation, way of going, disposition, and turnout.  Carl, owned and shown by Jennifer Allen, took top honors in the draft horse category, while Pete, owned and shown by Ann Azevedo, took top honors in the mini horse category.

After the halter class the fun really began with the Gambler’s Choice class.  Gambler’s Choice is where horse driven carts are given 2 minutes to complete as many obstacles as possible. Each obstacle is assigned a set point value and competitors are allowed to repeat each obstacle a maximum of 2 times but not in sequence.  Obstacles included bridges, tight u-turns, backing up, and driving through a slalom course of cones.           

The day continued with pleasure driving classes, 4-up hitch wagon classes, log skidding and there was even a draft horse barrel race – and boy can these big guys move when they want to! Interspersed throughout the day were wonderful exhibitions; California Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team with a patriotic theme, Draft Horse Breed Demonstration where it was proven there are draft horses other than Clydesdales, and an Oxen pulling exhibition where the crowds were amazed by the size of the oxen and the skill of the teamsters that drive them.  Lunch of hot dogs, polish sausage and tri-tip sandwiches (my favorite) were provided by the 4-H who kept all profits to benefit the local Paicines 4-H club.

The show ended with a wonderful Parade Class where all competitors displayed their finest and in one case a pioneer covered wagon complete with period costume.  “It was a great day and an amazing turnout for the first show, we are all tired but happy and looking forward to next year’s show which will be an even bigger and better 2 day format” says Chris Kluga CCDHDS board member.

For more information on the show and dates for next year you can go to the show website at

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Copyright © 2004 Amber Kluga and the Bay Area Equestrian Network. All rights reserved. The above article and photos are the property of the Author and may not be duplicated or redistributed in any way without permission.  Contact Amber Kluga for comments on this article and permission to reprint this article in part or its entirety.


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