Murray County Classic is July 14-15
By Renae B. Vander Schaaf
Date Modified: 08/02/2012 2:09 PM
SLAYTON, Minn. — The Murray County Draft Horse Classic is one of the best, says Harold Schumacher of Plainview.
He and his family have been involved with it since its inception six years ago.
"It has grown from a small show to large show that is very good," said Schumacher.
He purchased his first horses more than 30 years ago. He took first place with his Percherons at the Percheron World Congress held in 1983 at Calgary, Canada.
Schumacher isn't involved with any shows during the winter months. When the Murray County Classic comes around he is anxious to get the horses out.
The Murray County Classic participates in the North American Six-Horse Classic Series. The series includes 60 qualifying shows where hitches build points in competition that will eventually select the North American Six-Horse Hitch Champion.
Joe Biren of Slayton helped start the Murray County Classic. He grew up working with Belgian horses and training them. He is continuing the tradition with his own family. Several of his nieces will participate in the show. His sons are also learning the ins and outs of caring for draft horses.
"The draft horse played a significant in America's agriculture history, said Biren. "Agriculture in this country wouldn't have developed so strongly without the draft horse. To be doing farming demonstrations this year for the first time is pretty exciting."
One of the demonstrations will involve preparing a seedbed and planting it. Draft horses will plow up the grass, disk and drag the field before it's planted back to grass, said Biren. Hay will be cut, raked and baled. Wheat will be ground into flour.
"The farming demonstrations do a good job of showing the power each horse possesses, yet the horse has a gentle nature," said Biren. "The hitch competitions bring out the athletic ability and action that also belongs to the draft horse breeds.
Three main breeds — Belgian, Percheron and Clydesdale, will be represented at the Murray County Classic.
Brad Schreiber will bring his Percherons from Plainview. The Schrieber family farms 800 acres and also does custom farming work.
"The Murray County Classic comes around at the perfect time," said Schreiber. "The farm work is pretty much completed by then. The competition is really good over there, and the folks running it do a really, really good job."
Schreiber will bring eight horses along. His brother and nieces and nephews all participate in the competition.
The competition includes the Classic Six Horse Hitch, Unicorn, Men's Cart, Ladies Cart, Junior Cart and other competitions. The points are counted and build for the national championship that will be held in Oklahoma.
The gates will open at 8 a.m. both days at the Murray County fairgrounds, located on the south side of town. Attendees can walk through the barns, watch the horses being prepared and visit with draft horse owners.