August 5, 2011– For the 108th year American Saddlebred Horses, Roadster Horses and Hackney/Harness Ponies will come to the Kentucky State Fair to compete in order to be called a World?s Champion, a World?s Champion of Champion, or the most desired title a World?s Grand Champion. The first show was in 1902 with the title of World?s Champion being designated in 1914.
When the word Louisville is said to this group of people it doesn’t mean the Kentucky Derby, it means the green shaving, the yellow mums forming a horseshoe in the center of the ring, the riding up Stopher Walk to the make-up ring and then going down the schute, with the fairgoers hanging over the railing, into the cool air of Freedom Hall. Showing against the best horses in their division for the title of World?s Champion. This is what everyone that shows Saddlebred horses, Roadster horses and/or Hackney ponies wish to do, ride on the green shavings and experience the excitement and thrill of winning a ribbon, any ribbon, in Freedom Hall.
If you are fortunate enough to become a World?s Champion of Champions or a World?s Grand Champion your horses name as well as your own will be engraved on the sterling silver trophies some of which are almost one hundred years old, that have been given in that class in memory of past winners. The winner of each World?s Champion of Champions and the World?s Grand Champion is draped with a blanket of flower, as well as a tri-color ribbon for the owner and trainer of the entry, making a very striking and beautiful victory pass picture to be cherished for a lifetime.
This horse spectacle is not like some, where there is very little or no applause during the class. The spectators love to show their support of their favorite horse by being very vocal with cheering and clapping. In fact the last class of the show the World?s Grand Champion Five Gaited reminds many of a basketball game between two intense rivals, the cheering fills the huge arena and at time it being difficult to hear the announcer call the gaits. But if the crowd doesn’t agree with a winner they don’t hesitate to show their support of the one that think should have won by cheering loudly when it is called up to receive the ribbon. It is not a quiet sedate crowd, but one that shows their support as well as their appreciation for the horse’s performances.
When you consider the fact that there will be almost 2,000 horses entered in the show and each horse will average five people with it that makes for a large group of people who will be in Louisville for at least ten days. The economic impact for this show would quite possibly run in the range of ten to fifteen million dollars, making it very important to the city?s economy.
The show has an air of excitement that is hard to describe with the people, at night, dressed in their best, including formals on Saturday night. It follows traditions laid down over one hundred years ago, with the officials in the ring wearing tuxedoes and the red coats of the ringmasters makes for a very impressive sight.
If you would like to view this fantastic spectacle you can do so by both coming to the fair in the daytime and going into Freedom Hall for a day of free horse shows, but for a night show you will need tickets.