By MONICA BOND
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
BAZETTA -- Stocky draft horses took turns in the show ring Friday at the Trumbull County Fair's open class draft horse judging.
Draft horses come in three colors: blacks, grays and sorrels. A full-grown draft horse is typically 17 to 18 hands high, and can weigh up to a ton. Despite their size, these horses are remarkably mellow, said Cindy Sinn, from LuRay Farms in Farmdale.
"They're known as gentle giants," she said.
Cindy and her husband, Dennis, own LuRay Farms and have been working with draft horses for 21 years. Until recently, they owned more than a dozen horses and showed horses in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. They usually went to 10 shows a year, beginning with the Trumbull fair and running through October, and worked full-time as nurses.
Better than tractors
Draft horses are used for field work, carriages, and are becoming more popular as riding horses, Cindy Sinn said.
"The Amish use them a whole lot more than we do," she said. "They [the horses] can do a whole lot more than the tractors can do for us."
They are also being cross bred, especially with thoroughbreds, for jumpers, she said.
"People are finding they are getting a better bone and a better foot in them by cross-breeding," she said.
The Sinns own only three horses now, a team of geldings and a yearling. The yearling, Little Orphan Annie, was an orphaned foal last year raised by a surrogate mother. Annie was her mother's first colt; the mare didn't know what to do and was a little hurt with the labor, so she didn't want the colt, she said.
"We put her [Annie] in with another mare who had a foal and she raised two foals," she said. "You don't see that too often; I've never seen it before."
Friday's show was an open class halter show; the horses were well-groomed and paraded braided tails, flowers and ribbons. It is distinct from the 4-H shows at the fair; anyone can enter their horse, provided they are at the fair for the whole week. In halter classes, the horses are judged primarily on their confirmation -- how well the horse is put together.
Max Dade of Southington had a team of wet mares, mares who had foals earlier this year, in Friday's show. He's been working with draft horses since 1994.
"My kids had ponies and I couldn't use the ponies, so when they grew out of them we grew into draft horses," he said. "It was kind of a progression."
The Sinns and Dade both breed Percheron draft horses, one of three popular draft horse breeds in the United States. Other popular breeds are the Belgian and the Clydesdale.
Put to use
Dade uses his horses for wagon rides, light farm work, and raising colts. Trumbull County Fair is the only fair he attends.
"I was involved in 4-H for 10 years in the livestock end, so I come out here once a year to see everyone I know, like Trent here," he said.
Trent Brown, 16, of Bazetta, competes with his appaloosa in the contesting classes, the timed speed events at the fair. He's known Dade for three years.
"I started helping him out one day and I've been doing it ever since," he said.
The drive-in draft horse and pony hitch show is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Draft Horse Ring.