Owning Percherons and showing them, however, can be a costly venture
© HARRY SULLIVAN - TRURO DAILY NEWS
Stephen Yuill of Old Barns is seen guiding his Percheron, Buck, up to receive his second-place ribbon following the Men's Percheron Cart competition at the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition on Thursday.
TRURO - With the sounds of the midway crowd buzzing behind him, Stephen Yuill proudly holds up his bright, blue ribbon under a hot summer's sun and smiles broadly.
His performance in the Men's Percheron Cart show at the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition with his seven-year-old horse named Buck may not have been good enough to capture first place, perhaps, but a second-place finish wasn't too shabby either.
"It's a thrill, it's a rush you know," the Old Barns resident says, of his reason for participating in the event. "When they do good, you feel good."
Yuill and his wife of 39 years, Mary-Ann, have been competing in separate divisions of the high two-wheeled cart shows for more than 25 years. He has garnered a few first-place finishes over that period but regardless of where he places, Yuill's reason for staying involved is for the personal satisfaction he derives from the sport more than ribbons or anything else.
"We don't do it for the prize money definitely," he says, with a chuckle, given that Yuill wasn't expecting to haul in more than $25 or $30 for his finish.
"Like it's a big job. And it's everyday at home too, doing something with them," he says. "But it's a sport like anything else. It's a competition."
Besides the work, however, anyone looking to participate in the sport should not be of the financially faint of heart.
"If you added it all up, it's $100,000 or more," he says, of the cost of owning a pair of large Percheron horses, a cart, truck, two trailers, harness and other related gear.
Yuill's cart, complete with its chrome finish and hand-painted decorations, came from Indiana at a cost of $4,000. The harness is worth another $10,000.
"And we were two hours getting ready for a three-minute class," he says, of the time investment required before a show.
"It's a tradition," he says, of the reason for the "big high wheels" on the carts.
And participating in the show itself is all about the "action," he says. "It's all about performance and it's very flashy going by the public."
During the cart competitions, participants are judged on the horse's overall makeup and performance.
"Basically the judge is looking for action but the horse has to be very mannerly and respond to the driver," Yuill says.
"And we're going around and around and then we reverse and he sees the other side of the horse."
That effort is followed by a flat-footed walk, after which participants speed back up to a road trot before lining up for an inspection.
"And then he judges each horse on confirmation and any leg faults and then you have to back up in front of the judge. Four steps," he says.
As to why he finished second to New Brunswick resident Matthew Hornbrook, Yuill wasn't sure. But neither was he overly concerned.
"Well I can't tell you because I was watching Buck," Yuill says, of where he was lacking. "But ... Matthew is a good driver and he obviously beat me on, I don't know... ."