WRAL.com at the State Fair

A Horse Show at the Fair

Posted October 16, 2007 9:29 p.m. EDT

This is how you get to the horse show: go out Gate 8 to Trinity Road. Turn left. Follow the big sign about 200 yards down the road, and there you are.

Though it's somewhat isolated from the Fairgrounds itself, there's a lot going on at the James B. Hunt Horse Complex Arena throughout the Fair. I went to the complex on Monday night, and got to see the competitions for draft horses and Paso Fino horses.

Paso Fino horses have an interesting natural gait that looks very proud and elegant. Part of the competition for the horses had them going across a "sounding board," so the cadence of the gait could be heard as well as seen. (You can learn more about Paso Finos at http://www.pasofinos.com/pasofino.html .) Competition included Paso Fino Costumes, Paso Pleasure Driving, and Paso Fino Pleasure Schooling.

A draft horse is not a breed, rather it's a horse bred for hard work like plowing. You know Clydesdales? Those are draft horses, as are other breeds such as Percherons. I didn't know that draft horses were ridden, so I was surprised to see competition for Draft Horse Under Saddle. What beautiful horses, but they were huge! The six-horse hitch competition, the last of the evening, was great to watch.

Each competition was announced by a horn cadence, and the entries themselves were accompanied by an organist who swung with aplomb from "Lady of Spain" to "America the Beautiful." I didn't know organists played at horse shows. I normally associate organs with ball games and skate rinks. I kept half-expecting the announcer to follow the request for contestants to "Paso Corto" with the announcement that it was an all-skate...

There's a cafeteria in the Horse Complex along with several vendors in the arena. The arena itself was cool and comfortable, a nice break after the fairly warm afternoon. The only unfortunate thing about going to the horse event is the walk over there. The event we went to ended so late because of the accident (see the last blog post) that Gate 8 was closed and we had to walk up through the parking lot to Gate 9.

If you normally associate your Fair activities to the fairgrounds proper, check out the activities over at the horse complex. You can see a schedule of the remaining competitions at http://www.ncstatefair.org/2007a/Competitions/horseshows.htm.