Draft horses with Kyna Beekers

175 years of history – Draft Horse

Kyna Beekers has been an active member of the Fair committee for the past few years. Having had the chance to follow alongside friends of hers for 3 summers at the Calgary Stampede with their Clydesdale Horses, it was a no-brainer that, when asked to join the Fair in the Draft Horse division, she jumped at the opportunity! “As a Director, I am starting my 5th year, but I have been with the Draft Horse Committee for 6 years.”

She is a great asset to the Ayer’s Cliff Fair Committee and is also involved in various activities during the festivities of the Fair: “Most of my time is spent with the Draft Horses. In the last 2 years, however, I have spent more time helping with the Horse Racing committee as well as the Entertainment committee, with events such as the kids’ tractor pull and the adult Tug-of-War.”

Having been raised her whole life in Ayer’s Cliff, this resident is continuing to share much of her time in different departments during Fair weekend. She is also a big part of the preparations throughout the year in addition to putting a lot of time and effort into the Fair Grounds. “Every Fair, about a week to 3 weeks out, I run through the Draft horse barn to make sure everything is ready for the exhibitors. If there are stalls that need repairing, I get them fixed, if there might be painting to be done, I paint. With my son and my niece as my little helpers, we make sure the stalls are labelled, and the barn is cleaned and ready for the exhibitors to move in. I also prepare, ahead of time, all the ribbons and the paperwork of the entries received, for the placings of the classes. With the help of our trustee secretary Jennifer, we make sure a judge is booked for the weekend and that the accommodations are ready for them.

But her work doesn’t stop there! During the Fair, she also helps to make sure everything is ready to go when the opening day comes! Kyna is definitely a very busy and helpful person everyone can rely on.

For people that don’t know how Draft horses are judged, Kyna took the time to explain very carefully how the winners are chosen: “Every judge is different and every class is also different. One class might be judged on the driver, in which case the horse might not be judged at all, or it is solely on the horse and not the person holding the lines.

Overall evaluation:
Each horse should be individually examined for conformation defects, soundness, and way of travel at the walk and jog/trot as it is led directly to and away from the judge and at the jog from a direct side angle. The horse must move straight and true. This is essential regardless of the competition the horse will ultimately perform.

· The walk should be a natural flat-footed, four-beat gait. The walk must be alert, with a stride of reasonable length for the size of the horse.
· The jog/trot should be a smooth, ground-covering, two-beat diagonal gait. The jog/trot should be square, balanced with straightforward movement of the feet.
· Obvious lameness is cause for disqualification. Obvious lameness is:
· Consistently observable at a trot under all circumstances
· Marked nodding, hitching, or shortened stride
· Minimal weight-bearing in motion and/or at rest

Throughout the 175 years of the event, a lot of changes have occurred in the Draft horse discipline. “In fact, it changes from year to year even! Horses are getting bigger, wagons are getting heavier, new classes are being introduced as well as some classes unfortunately disappearing because of the changes in time, in the equipment used and in the animals.” But overall, the rules are still the same.” adds Kyna.

When you don’t see Kyna running around the fairgrounds, she can be found dabbling with some photography. Her main hobby, however, is standing on the pitcher’s mound during soft ball season! She is one of the main organizers for the Winter & Summer Snow / Slow-Pitch tournaments held at the Fair grounds, in March and August, which helps raise funds for the Ayer’s Cliff Elementary School Home & School Association but also supports the ACF Plowman’s Scholarship fund.

If you would like to learn more about these “Gentle giants of the land”, please do not hesitate to visit the Draft Horse barn, where our exhibitors are always happy to see guests and answer any questions you may have.

We cannot wait to see you, and celebrate the 175th anniversary all together!

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