Calgary - If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. At least that’s the approach Bryce Smith and the Double S Belgians team from Menan, Idaho took when they won the prestigious Calgary Stampede Heavy Horse Hitch World Six competition for the second consecutive year.
Both Smith and his driver, Kyle Forsyth, agree that “consistency is key,” and they couldn’t be more thrilled with the $15,000 win in front of a capacity crowd on Tuesday night at the Nutrien Western Event Centre.
“It feels great; we have a great time every time we come up here,” a beaming Smith said after he and his team high-stepped to the win. “The Calgary Stampede always puts on a great show. It’s overwhelming.”
The majestic heavy horses have been showing at the Calgary Stampede since the inception of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth in the late 1886. Not only is it the longest running, uninterrupted agricultural competition at the Stampede, it is also the oldest heavy horse show in North America.
Pulling immaculately styled freight wagons, these impressive horses weighing around one-ton apiece, demand attention in their sparkling patent leather harnesses and gleaming chrome. The finale sees the final hitches move in time to the accompaniment of members of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, adding even more class and elegance to an already stellar event.
It was a special night as the 20th Anniversary of a wonderful partnership between the Calgary Stampede’s Heavy Horse Show and members of the prestigious Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra was celebrated.
Making the night even more memorable, it came down to a drive-off between three teams; Double S Belgians, Highpoint Clydesdales and Mark Messenger Memorial Hitch, who were announced as reserve winners.
“The drive-off is always when your heart gets pounding,” Forsyth said. “The other contenders here are tremendous people with tremendous groups of horses and you’ve got to give them a lot of credit.” The kicker is, the Double S Belgians team won with five out of six of the same horses as last year.
“It is the same horses but we do have a new four-year-old in the hitch, and we moved some others around. It just seemed to smooth it out over last year,” Smith added. The other similarity to last year’s win? Smith employed the same 2018-winning driver in Forsyth.
“Kyle brings this whole team together. He manages the team with his wife, Marsha. They’re both the anchors of the whole team.” Ironically, Forsyth sold Smith his first hitch of Clydesdales in 2011 and said they’ve had a good relationship ever since, eventually linking up in 2018. Now, they’ve won two Calgary Stampede Heavy Horse Championships together in just two years.
“I was here (at the Calgary Stampede) a couple times with Country Lane Belgians out of Ontario, but the gentleman that owned that hitch passed away from cancer in 2017,” Forsyth explained. “That’s when Bryce purchased that hitch of Belgians to mix with Belgians he already had and made the switch from Clydes to Belgians.” Looks like it was a perfect match.
“It’s been clicking so far. Hopefully we can maintain that level of success. We’ve had a lot of fun.”
Visit ag.calgarystampede.com/results for full results from the World Six and the Heavy Horse Show.
About the Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west. The Calgary Stampede contributes to the quality of life in Calgary and southern Alberta through our world-renowned Stampede, year-round facilities, western events and several youth and agriculture programs. Exemplifying the theme We’re Greatest Together; we are a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit community organization that preserves and promotes western heritage and values. All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.
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