2015 Calgary Stampede World Champion Six Horse Hitch
Photo: J Ann Brodland

From Cross Fit to Zumba, the next big fitness trend is always evolving.  However, competitive athletes rarely dabble into the trends and follow a strict regimented plan of consistent training and diet.  Not much is different for the six heavy horses in a six horse hitch.

Brian Coleman of Eaglesfield Percheron’s from Didsbury Alberta, who with was the teamster behind the lines of the 2014 Calgary Stampede World Champion Six Horse Hitch explained what it takes to get a six horse hitch ready for the Calgary Stampede.

Like any sports team, there is a Spring training camp for the Heavy Horses of on the farm and that is where Brian works to identify potential teams.  A six horse hitch is made up of three teams; the wheel team in the back, the swing in the middle and the lead team at the front.  A teamster is looking for teams that are similar in size, stride, head carriage (how the horse holds their head), all of these attributes will help a team work together in unison.

Heavy Horses of all ages are included in a six horse hitch, but just like a human athlete, there is different training required based on level of experience.  The younger horses will require more muscle building and rest so as they don’t get sour…which in horse terms means stubborn teenager syndrome.  Brian gets the young horses ready by doing work on the farm and pulling anything that has a bit more weight, such as the manure spreader or harrows.  Talk about pulling your own weight!

Spring training for Heavy Horses
Photo: J Ann Brodland

The seasoned horses in the hitch require a bit more cardio so that they lean out for the competition.  Brian trains with them on the wagon and lets them really get going and they love it!  This is much more entertaining than the bulky muscle heads at the gym running on the treadmill in a hoodie. The great thing about heavy horses is that they look forward to work and once they are accustomed to training they are raring to go.

And like any athlete a horses diet is extremely important.  Prior to a show the horses feed is increased so they have enough energy for their training.  Their diet consists of a high level of fats and proteins and lower carbohydrates and this helps with muscle definition and endurance for the horse.

And last but not least is a six horse hitch’s glam squad!  After each training session each horse is rinsed and groomed so that their coat doesn’t become dull.  “Its all about being the shiniest penny in the ring.” according to Brian Coleman of Eaglesfield Percherons.

The training program for a six horse hitch is intense and thorough but to get 12,000 lbs of horse to work in unison there is a high level of commitment required from the teamster and the horses. Brian will be at the 2015 Calgary Stampede Heavy Horse Show from July 3-6 behind the lines of the Mark Messenger Memorial Hitch and Cey Clydesdales.  Be sure to stop by the barns and the show to check out the twelve impressive heavy horse hitches that will be competing for the 2015 Calgary Stampede World Champion Six Horse Hitch.

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