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Manitobans stand out in Percheron Congress

Coming back strong.
The winning four mare hitch owned by Strains of Virden - Silver Oak Percherons. Joe Dolan Le-Sueur, MN, driving.

The World Percheron Congress (WPC), July 18 – 23, at the Keystone Centre in Brandon saw a number of locals participate in planning and exhibiting at this prestigious event. The week was filled with camaraderie, competition, reuniting, emotion, hard work and heat both inside the arena as well as outdoors! 

With around 250 horses exhibited, this was one of the smaller Congresses held in recent years, but the fact that they persevered through the adversity that COVID presented is a testament to the tenacity and determination of the organizing committee and the exhibitors that did support it.

No one could have predicted the toll that the pandemic would have on the show when they first entertained the idea of hosting it in 2016. “COVID definitely had a direct impact on our show. The border status affected us as much as anything,” said Donna Swanston, Canadian Percheron Association President and co-chair of the 2022 WPC.

Swanston and co-chair, Darcy Strain, both of Virden, as well as Virden-area native, Kent Anderson now of Pilot Mound, made it their personal goal to persist and see it through to the end. Their determination and fortitude paid off.

“I’m glad we were able to put it on and not have to postpone or cancel it altogether,” said Anderson. “We made a show out of the cards that we were dealt. I think people were just really glad to get back showing at this calibre.” 

Other Congresses have had upwards of 800 to 1000 horses, but the committee was grateful for the horses/owners from six Canadian provinces: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, and 11 US states who attended the event.

The depth of the halter show was impressive. With 24 yearling fillies exhibited, it was easily the largest class of the show. Swanston stated, “In my opinion, that’s a reflection on our Canadian horses. It allowed them a time to shine and be at the forefront.”

Exhibitors reported that promotion of their breeding program was one of the main purposes in attending this year’s world show.

Charleswood Percherons of Pilot Mound, Man. won World Champion Gelding with Charleswood Cody, a home-raised gelding that stands just shy of 19.1 HH.
“It was a pretty sweet feeling to win it with a horse that size that can flat out motor and hitch, and the best part of it all was that we raised him!” said  Anderson, elated after the win. “We raised five out of the six geldings we drove in the six, and were competitive at that level. Not too many can say that.”

The 2022 World Percheron Congress will go down in history not only as being a breeders show, but as a family show. As the classes progressed from halter to hitch, it was evident that the horses doing the winning were, for the most part, home-bred.

“It’s encouraging to see so many family-owned hitches being competitive at a World Percheron Congress with home-raised stock,” said Aaron Freitag, of LaPorte, IN, judge of the hitch show at the conclusion of Friday evening’s mare ‘six’, in which Silver Oak Percherons of Virden came in a respectable second, having won many of the mare hitch classes earlier in the week. 

Notable wins from area breeders/exhibitors are as follows:

Silver Oak Percherons - Darcy, Sherri, Ethan and Mathew Strain, Virden
•    Ladies’ Mare Cart
•    Registered Mare Tandem
•    Mens’ Mare Team
•    Registered Mare Unicorn
•    Registered Mare Four-Horse Hitch
•    Senior Driver (65 yrs and over) with Rene Conrad
Northern Grit Percherons - Joe, Cathy & Luc Plett, Virden
•    Junior Judging
•    Youth Cart (10 – 14 yrs)
Lone Oak Percherons - Jim & Darlene Lane and David & Tina Collier, Birtle
•    Registered Gelding, 2 & under
•    Light Draft Gelding
•    Heavy Draft Gelding and Reserve World Champion Gelding
•    Breeders’ Challenge 2 yr old cart class
Charleswood Percherons - Kent & Marnie Anderson and family, Pilot Mound
•    Registered Gelding, 3 & over and World Champion Gelding
•    Senior Showmanship (15 – 18 yrs) with Owen Anderson
•    Senior Decorating (15 – 18 yrs) with Owen Anderson
•    Senior Judging (15 – 18 yrs) with Owen Anderson
Other area exhibitors included Elkview Percherons - Gord Joseph of Elkhorn; Look-Out Percherons - Darcy Boreham of Virden; Mount Joy Percherons - Lyle Farquhar of Birtle; Ferguson Horse Training - Scott & Cody Ferguson of Minnedosa; as well as other Manitoba exhibitors the Conrad family of St. Alphonse, the Strain family of Boissevain, Theresa Early of Holland, Jim Scott of Morden, Johan Hildebrand of Mitchell, Rod Delaquis of Notre Dame and Heather Arthur of Brandon.