BIBLE HILL - Taking home a ribbon, no matter what the place, means so much to Ben Cavanagh.
It represents all the hard work and hours spent with his big Clydesdale horses, shaping them into show winners.
"Oh yeah its nice to take home a banner," the 61-year-old Masstown resident said. "Everybody likes to. There's a lot of good competition out there."
But that's not the reason Cavanagh had his pair of 1,900-pound beasts at the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition in Bible Hill entered in the heavy Clydesdale team competition. They wound up taking third-place honours.
"I just enjoy it," he said. "It gets you away from different things and it relaxes you. But a lot of great people show horses and you get to meet them from all over."
Cavanagh has met plenty of them over 20 years of showing. Everybody seems to know him, as evidenced by a steady stream of "Hey Benny" greetings while standing outside the stable on the exhibition grounds.
Cavanagh was introduced to the sport by his grandfather, who worked with heavy horses.
"He never had a license to drive so he always worked with horses," Cavanagh said.
Cavanagh took an interest in the imposing animals himself, and decided to buy a team of two.
"I didn't know much about it but between him and my grandmother they showed me and we got into showing," he said.
On Wednesday, Cavanagh was showing Gene and Prince, a pair of veteran horses in the ring with more than 10 years experience each. He bought them from breeder Terry Grant in North River but left the driving to Lower Onslow's Fred Hamilton on Wednesday.
"They're good and easy for me to handle and hook up," Cavanagh said. "Fred uses them for the sleigh rides on his farm so he keeps them in shape all winter for me."
A lot goes into getting horses into the show ring. They need almost daily training on a wagon when they're first learning to pull and need regular exercise and practice in doing so to stay sharp. Cavanagh said Gene and Prince's winter job with Hamilton is perfect for them.
"The sleigh rides are good for them," Cavanagh said. "It teaches them a lot and shows them how to pull and stop when you want them to and it builds their muscle up and their character too. As long as you don't abuse them they give you great character and look after you."
But sitting on the sidelines and watching his horses pull a cart around the show ring does nothing to settle his nerves.
"Yeah it can get nerve wracking sometimes because everybody likes to win,but everybody is friendly," he said. "If anyone has a problem, everyone is there to help them out."
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