Check out the gentle giants |

Check out the gentle giants

Everyone from local farmers and ranchers to young families can enjoy watching the “gentle giants” perform at the second annual Colorado Draft Horse Classic on Labor Day weekend in Rifle.

The Colorado Draft Horse Classic runs 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, at the Garfield County Fairgrounds in Rifle. Tickets are $5 for adults and children under 12 are free.

Last year’s inaugural event drew up to 3,000 people during the two days full of majestic draft horses, craftsmen, competitions and special events. Presented by the nonprofit Silt Revitalization Inc. and the Western Slope Driving Chapter of the Colorado Draft Horse Association, the classic features everything from chuck wagon races to a draft horse pull. Competition ranges from single carts to six-horse hitches. Organizers expect dozens of competitors from six states showing almost 100 horses.

“This is a great family event that you won’t find anywhere else in Colorado,” said organizer Angie Urban. “This goes back to the heritage of this area. People still have a lot of interest in the big horses and what they can do.”

“These horses just have a natural magnetic draw to them, these gentle giants, that people just love,” said organizer Sheila Grange.One of the highlights of the classic is the draft horse pull, set for 8 p.m. Friday. Teams of horses in two weight classes will compete to pull the heaviest sleds.

Competitions ranging from juniors to women, from Ride-A-Buck to 4 Up-Rail, will start at 4 p.m. Friday and continue from 3-7 p.m. Saturday. Horse-and-driver teams will compete in obstacle courses, and an egg and spoon fun event asks bareback riders to trot while keeping an egg on a spoon.

Saturday will kick off with a pancake, sausage and eggs breakfast at 8 a.m. Hosted by the Rifle Lions Club, it costs $5 for adults, $4 for kids. Saturday will continue with Shire horse halter class competitions followed by karaoke and local entertainment.

The crowd-pleasing chuck wagon races will take place both Friday and Saturday afternoons. Horse teams pulling small covered wagons race around the arena in a speed competition.

Spectators will have the opportunity to view the horses up close at the event staging area. Visitors can check out the offerings of 40 vendors and craftsmen ranging from artists to dealers of horse paraphernalia.

Demonstrations of blacksmithing and leather carving as well as performances by the Meeker Drill Team and the Freedom Riders from Eagle will take place throughout the two days.

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