This summer and now fall “The Drift” has been drifting a lot. We just drifted to the annual “Draft Horse Classic” in Grass Valley California at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. This is a BIG trip I have been making for the last three years. Why you ask? Well, they have a wonderful art show “Art at the Classic” that yours truly gets to participate in as a photographer. But this post is NOT about that. This post and the next four to follow is about this BIG, one of the BIGGEST draft horse shows in the west. Most spectators who go, go back again every year because even if you are not a horse person it is fascinating to see these BIG horses and their handlers. The ones like the Budweiser team and many more in lots of different colors and types. Big does not accurately describe them though, GIANT is more like it. In fact they are known as “Gentle Giants”. For this post I am going to start with “At the Barns” because going to the barns is my favorite thing to do. Besides the great performances. And since this is my first blog post about the Classic I’m going to show off the last three years. Hope you don’t get too saturated with the drafts this week but I have to get them out of my system…..and my computer.Lets start with one of my favorite breeds, the most famous draft breed thanks to a well known marketing campaign. The Clydesdale! Did you know they were originally bred near the River Clyde in Scotland?They are not ready for the show until they are well fed. After eating they start to get spruced up for a day of showing. My dictionary is saying spruced is not a word. So what.They are very patient if their buddies are being groomed first and they don’t mind being high-tied for extended periods of time.Another beautiful draft breed is the Belgian. Golden coats and flaxen manes. How can you go wrong with those colors? Belgians apparently come in other colors but I have not seen them yet. Or maybe I have but just don’t know it. These guys think they own the red barns. Speaking of colors, forest green is the best color on Gold Belgians pared with leather and brass. Here is a Belgian standing patiently while being tacked up for the show. Patience is a virtue. How about that show harness? Here are some Belgians looking stunning just after sunrise. They are getting ready to pull a farm implement in a show class.Here they go. What a nice way to go.These BIG guys are confined a bit during the show so they need exercise.That is why you see them being walked a lot. They like getting out and seeing whats going on all around the barns.When they walk by I am in AWE by their presence close to me. I watch them until they fade off into middle earth, I mean the barns, with their BIG feet clomping.Handlers come in both sexes. These tall, dark, black hansoms are Percherons. The Percheron is one of the strongest of the draft horses, able to pull loads weighing more that a ton! They were first bred in France to carry knights into battle.Here is one getting tacked up to work even if it is just for show. The Percheron is commonly all black. And can have a white heart, I mean star, like this one. I am in AWE again. As my jaw drops when he walks by I notice a spot on his heart.Here are some gray Percherons. They were born black but turned gray later on. They think they own the red barns too….especially #54.Hard work and exercise in the morning makes for a steamy entrance into the show ring. We all know getting out to exercise before a performance can make the difference between winning and loosing.This guy had the right idea for exercising four beautiful Friesians all at once. I was in AWE once again. This time wondering if I would ever have a seat so good to as to ride a horse bareback and at the same time pony three others. I’m still ponying one horse while I ride IN my saddle. I guess the five Sundogs in tow do not count.The Friesians were amazingly graceful and well-behaved. Floating like the wind. Never giving their rider and handler anything to worry about. You will see more of these graceful, gentle beasts in my “Driving” post.Oh, let’s not forget the Shire. The Shire is known as the largest or the BIGGEST of the draft breeds as demonstrated here. Legend or fact, it is said when King Henry VIII ordered the destruction of all horses in England less than five feet high, he was conducting a rather brutal natural selection process that produced the ancestors of the Shires. Brutal is right. RIH Henry the VIII. Shires have that cool long white hair around their feet. Shires are usually black with white markings but can come in all white. You can see here they look good in hot pink. Are you learning a lot? Here is a Shire who looks smashing in red!Oh and let’s not forget these TINY horses. They have a purpose here with the BIG horsesNo, this one is not going to fight in any wars.And either is this one even though he looks like a super horse.Speaking of super here is a REALLY super cute Clydesdale in his or her green and yellow blanky….I mean sheet.Does he (or she) know how cute he or she is? Even though he/she is so darn BIG.So that’s it folks for “At the Barn” today even though I have many more “At the Barn” shots in my posts to come in my “Driving, Showing and Bathing” this week. Stay tuned!