Horse shows are a family matter

Kristen McEwen
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Showing horses has been part of the Charity Martin’s life ever since she could walk.

“I’m 21 and I’ve been doing it since my mom and dad brought us -- me and my sister -- to shows when we were just babies,” Martin said.

Hailing from Strathclair, Man., Martin and her family drove eight hours to reach the 131st Prince Albert Exhibition to show their Clydesdale horses in the heavy horse classes from Thursday to Saturday.

The Martin family makes up the crew that prepare the horses for each show and level class, including Charity, her father, her mother, her sister, Charity’s boyfriend, her sister’s boyfriend, her aunt and a family friend.

Each person has a job to do, whether it’s braiding manes, grooming or harnesses on the horses.  

“It’s a lot of work when you get to the fair but it takes a lot of work to prepare to come to these things too,” said Blaine Martin, Charity’s father.

The family has attended nine shows this year, including the P.A. Exhibition. At some points during their circuit in Manitoba, the family is required to prepare their horses to compete and then move on the next day.

“We’ve been basically away from home for three weeks, a couple of days home here and there but the last three weeks have been pretty steady,” Blaine said.

The bunch is in a well-practiced routine of preparing the massive horses for the shows. Though the Prince Albert Exhibition is more of a relaxed pace, continuing over a period of three days.

The Martins have raised and shown their Boulder Bluff Farm Clydesdale horses for four generations.

“My daughters are the fourth generation to do this,” Blaine said.

He added that his grandfather first began breeding Clydesdale horses.  

“It kind of runs in your blood,” he said.

The family sells the Clydesdale breed all over North America and showing the breed at competitions like the Exhibition provide an excellent opportunity for exposure.

“We sent a mare this past winter to Scotland,” Blaine said. “It makes it worthwhile when you can make some good sales.”

About 10 farms are being represented at the Heavy Horse Show this year from various parts of the province including Carlyle, Kennedy and Wolseley.

Approximately 50 horses are competing in the show this year, said Heavy Horse Show chairperson Anna Rybka. 

“We’re like a big family,” Rybka said. “We all enjoy each other’s company. We all help each other when we notice if there’s a piece of harness broken or a shoe’s loose. There’s someone to pitch in and help.”

 “It’s a real close knit group and they have lots of fun showing and competing against one another,” she added.

Geographic location: Strathclair, Manitoba, North America Scotland

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