Six-horse Clydesdale hitch to entertain at Abilene Rodeo
Six beautiful equines will be part of the show at the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo in Abilene, Kansas. Broken Spoke Clydesdales, Winfield, Kansas, will bring their six-horse Clydesdale hitch pulling a freight wagon to the rodeo August 3-6. Mark DeCoudres, owner of the horses and the hitch, got involved with Clydesdales eleven years ago. It had always been a dream of his to drive a team. He had grown up around horses but didn’t know how to drive or harness them. He bought a team of two and left them at the seller’s house, returning each weekend to get lessons on how to harness and drive them. It wasn’t easy to learn to drive a hitch, DeCoudres said. “I remember one time,” he recalled, “I was driving four. I didn’t have my lines (how the horses are controlled) just right, and the next thing I knew, the lead horse was turned completely around, looking at me.” Each pair of horses has its own job when pulling a load. Jackson and Brock, the team closest to the wagon, are the wheel team. Brody and Forest, the team in the middle, are the swing team. Divinity and Diesel are the lead team. Usually the wheel horses weigh more than the lead horses, and the lead horses are more athletic and have to travel farther than the wheel team when making turns. The horses eat about forty pounds of hay and fifteen pounds of grain or pelleted feed a day. In Abilene, they will be kept in display stalls under a tent at the rodeo grounds. The public is invited to see them during the days of the rodeo. That is DeCoudres’ favorite part. “I like interacting with the people. There are children who would never be able to be up and close to a horse like that, if we weren’t there. Even for the older people, it brings back memories of their childhood, when their granddad or parents used draft horses on the farm.” Broken Spoke has qualified for the Six-Horse Hitch Classic Series Finals twice, in 2016-2017, and finished as one of the top four Clydesdale hitches in North America. They have entertained at rodeos and events across the nation, including the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo in Denver, the Reno (Nev.) Rodeo, the Prescott (Ariz.) rodeo, and others. DeCoudres loves sharing his animals with others.
“We want to share this majestic creature with young and old alike,” he said. “They’re a passion of ours, and we want to spread that passion to everyone we meet.” The Clydesdales will be in the parade on August 4 at 4 pm, and in the rodeo all four nights: August 3-6. They will also be on display on the east side of the rodeo grounds during the day, for the public to visit. The Abilene rodeo is August 3-6, beginning at 7:30 pm each night. Tickets are on sale at West’s Country Mart, at the fair office, and online at CKFF.net. Tickets are $10 in advance and $13 at the gate. Children’s tickets (ages 4-10) are $5, whether purchased in advance or at the gate.