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Big Thunder Draft Horse Show

Experience real horsepower at Big Thunder! Each of the hitches seen at the show train year-round to compete and display the raw power the magnificent horses posses right there in Loveland, CO.

Many of these hitches have traveled from across the country to compete at Big Thunder. We invite you to visit the barns either before or after each performance to meet the crew and their gentle giants!




  • Doors/Day of Ticket Sales Open 5:00pm
  • Barn Times: 5:00-6:15pm
  • Pre Show 5:30pm
  • Ticketed Performance 6:30pm


  • Draft Horse University: 10am-Noon
  • Doors/Day of Ticket Sales Open Noon
  • Barn Times: Noon-1:45pm
  • Pre Show 1:00pm
  • Ticketed Performance 2:00pm


  • Doors/Day of Ticket Sales Open Noon
  • Barn Times: Noon-1:45pm
  • Pre Show 1:00pm
  • Ticketed Performance 2:00pm



Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased:

  • Online
  • Budweiser Events Center Box Office
    • Monday - Friday | 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    • Saturday 10 a.m .- 2 p.m.

Day-Of Tickets will be sold at the Indoor Arena. Performances will sell out. Pre-Purchasing tickets is encouraged.

Class Schedule


  • Pre-Show – 5:30pm
  • Men’s Cart - Group B
  • Show Team – Group A
  • Paid Performance – 6:30pm
  • Ladies Cart - Group B      
  • Unicorn Hitch - Group A
  • Entertainment
  • Four Horse Hitch - Group B
  • Kids Stick Horse Race
  • Intermission
  • North American Classic Six


  • Pre-Show – 1pm
  • Men’s Cart - Group A
  • Show Team – Group B
  • Paid Performance – 2pm
  • Ladies Cart - Group A      
  • Unicorn Hitch - Group B
  • Entertainment
  • Four Horse Hitch - Group A
  • Kids Stick Horse Race
  • Work Arena - Break
  • North American Classic Six


  • Farm Teams – Start at 8 a.m.
  • Feed Team Competition
  • Log Skid Preliminaries
  • Pre-Show - 1pm
  • Log Skid Finals
  • Cart Classic Series
  • Paid Performance 2pm
  • Amateur Cart 
  • Entertainment
  • Ladies Team
  • Kids Stick Horse Race
  • Working Horse Team Class
  • Work Arena-break
  • Eight Horse Hitch

Special Features

Draft Horse University

  • Join us Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Indoor Arena for an informative and interactive session on topics from shoeing to training, show preparation and more! Draft Horse University is a $10 add-on to Saturday's ticket. A ticket for the afternoon performance must be purchased in conjuntion with a Draft Horse University ticket.

Stick Horse Race

  • Back by popular demand, the stick horse rodeo returns! Children 2-10 years of age are eligible to compete through a pattern with the fastest time awarded a prize. Sign-ups take place in the Indoor Arena lobby on a first-come, first-served basis as entires are limimted.


Show Staff


  • Brian Lynch


  • Tom Walsh


  • Lisa Graham

Big Thunder Committee Members

  • Brian Coleman
  • Kellie Gardner
  • Leroy Leavitt
  • Raedene Messenger
  • Jack Taylor
  • Dennis Kuehl


Ames Percheron Farm Inc (Jordan, MN)

The Ames Percheron Farm is a division of Ames Construction, Inc.  The farm is located in Jordan, Minnesota, not far from the company’s corporate headquarters in Burnsville, Minnesota. 

Ames Construction takes pride in its reputation for quality construction of airports, bridges and highways, golf courses, mine development, commercial site development, power plants, railroads and water treatment plants, with divisions in Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and the Minneapolis area.  The six-horse hitch of dapple-grey Percheron geldings perform as ambassadors for Ames Construction in competitions and shows throughout the United States and Canada.  It is only fitting that the Percheron was chosen as the company’s symbol of Ames “Pride,” a tradition instilled in every project, whether it relates to construction or horses.

Blue Ribbon Days Percherons (Farmington, MO)

Blue Ribbon Days Percherons is a partnership between Albert and Karen Cleve of Farmington Missouri, Jim and Peggy Day of Bradgate, Iowa, and Dean and Kelly Woodbury of Winchester, Indiana. 

The all mare Percheron hitch travels to 12-15 shows each year.  They are excited to be returning to Big Thunder in 2018 and would like to thank all the sponsors and spectators for a great show!

Crushin' Trance Clydesdales (Douglas, WY)

Double S Belgians (Menan, ID)

Double S Belgians shows across North America. We are excited to be showing at the Big Thunder Draft Horse Show.  Good luck to all the competitors.

Express Ranches (Yukon, OK)

In 2018, Express Ranches-Percherons came to fruition with the purpose of teaming up with Express Clydesdales to be the equine ambassadors for Express Employment Professionals. The two gentle giant breeds will work together to represent the company at their local offices and compete at draft horse shows throughout the United States of America and Canada.

How the Heavy Horse became part of the Express Family

In 1998, Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and President and Vice Chairman of Express Employment Professionals, visited the longstanding Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Saskatchewan. While visiting, he met and fell in love with the rare and beautiful black and white Clydesdales. Mr. Funk saw an opportunity to bring something entirely new and different to his home state of Oklahoma, a state steeped in its own rich equestrian history. He intuitively knew that the Clydesdales would become an unusual tourist attraction. And they have!

The Future of Draft Horses and Express Employment Professionals

While the Express Clydesdales will continue to travel the country and visit your local Express Employment Professionals’ offices, look for The Express Ranches-Percherons as they compete at some of North America’s most prestigious draft horse shows.

What the Express Ranches Percherons and Express Clydesdales love doing most is meeting their friends and fans at home and on the road, and supporting community efforts along the way.

Flintstone Gravel & Trucking (Granby, CO)

Heisey Percherons (Harris, MO)

Heisey Percherons of Harris, MO is a family operation.  Glenn enjoys breeding and raising high quality Percherons along with registered cattle and quarter horses.  Glenn’s daughter in law and driver of the cart, Lori Heisey, who is driving Soap Creek Joyce (a 3 year old mare) enjoys helping on the family farm and loves draft horses!

Jackson Fork Ranch (Little Jackson Hole, WY)

Wyoming-based Jackson Fork Ranch (JFR) is excited to present its newest team of Percherons as the ranch reignites its award-winning draft horse operation. JFR is honored to present its current hitch of promising young geldings – a fresh yet polished team that will be making its first appearance at the Big Thunder Draft Horse Show.  Along with hitching – JFR also plans to breed and raise its champion Percherons under the direction of Equine Manager Brent Bexson. The equine operation compliments JFR’s current subsidiaries that include a world-class bison ranch and several vacation properties located on the ranch where guests can explore all of the incredible outdoor experiences that make Wyoming one of the most remarkable destination spots in the world.

Johnson Belgians (Unity, Saskatchewan, Canada)

Kiefer Farm (Eaton, CO)

Kiefer Farm is your local, family owned hitch. As a family owned operation with owners who both work outside the farm, they both acknowledge and greatly appreciate that the Hitch would not be what it is without all the help and time put in by their friends and family. They also owe a big thank you to Poudre Valley REA for their sponsorship. Poudre Valley REA is your local Touchstone Energy Electric Cooperative serving more than 40,000 homes and businesses in Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties. PVREA is a non-profit and owned by the members we serve, and we are proud to support our local communities. 

Mark Messenger Memorial Hitch/Kirk Messenger Family (Cheyenne, WY)

The lines were first run through the fingers of Kirk and Mark Messenger in 1975 when they were seven and eight years old.  It was during the summer of 1975 that an era began for the Messenger Brothers - a name that became known for superior black Percheron geldings trimmed in glamour turquoise. Before they were known in the draft horse show world, Kirk and Mark Messenger left wagon wheel tracks throughout their home town of Cheyenne WY - on their way to school, to work and to play. The Messenger brothers’ unique bond with each other also left an imprint on the world. A light seemed to beam brightly everywhere they went. In May, 2002 that light was dimmed when Mark died in an automobile accident. In an effort t to keep Marks’ memory alive, The Messenger Brothers Hitch has become known as “The Mark Messenger Memorial Hitch.”  


Solomon's Clydesdales (Madrid, IA)

Solomon’s Clydesdales was founded in 1976 by Max and Beverly Remus. Their son, Brad continues on this Clydesdale tradition today. Solomon’s Clydesdales is located in Osborn, Kansas along the South Fork of the Solomon River. Solomon’s Clydesdales made their show ring debut is 1981 and have been actively participating in halters classes as well as hitching up a 6 horse hitch of home raised mares. Solomon’s continues with the help of Jared and Kellie Gardner who own and operate Gardner Horse Training.

Unhitched Ranch (Colton, CA)

The Unhitched Ranch is celebrating its 20th year owning Clydesdale horses.  Nick and Audrey and their sons, Sebastian and Jackson, are from Southern California with their 7 Clydesdales.  They have shown across the Western United States.

Yoder Hay Company (Westcliffe, CO)

Yoder Family Hay Company is a family owned hitch from Westcliffe, Colorado. They put up around 40,000 small square bakes a year and sell it all over the country. We show Percheron mares and always have a few mares and young stock for sale.

Young Living Essential Oils Percherons (Monda, UT)

The Young Living Percherons are the equine ambassadors for Young Living Essential Oils, brought to you from their global headquarters in Northern Utah.  Whether on the line or in the hitch, these horses bring a powerful presence that mirrors the company’s commitment to providing pure, powerful products to families across the globe.  You can visit these gorgeous animals six days a week at their home, the iconic Young Living Lavender Farm and Distillery, located in Mona, Utah.  The Young Living Percherons can also be seen year-round competing throughout the United States at fairs and stock shows, including Young Living’s annual Fall Festival and Draft Horse Show.

Zubrod's Percherons (Guthrie, OK)

This is our 8th year competing in the North American Six Horse Hitch Classic Series.

Chad works as a full time equine surgeon/veterinarian at Oakridge Equine Hospital. Our spare time is spent training our hitch of Percheron mares to compete at about 12 shows per year.  In addition to showing, we raise 6-8 foals per year, many of which are for sale. Our daughter, Kynseth (11), is our Junior Driver, decorator, and show person, and is becoming quite accomplished in her own right. Special thanks to our crew of friends that have helped us throughout the season.

Farm Team Entries

4A Bench Ranch - Craig, CO

4 Up Livestock - McFadden, WY

Carriages of CO - Commerce City, CO

Clover Carriages - Virginia City, MT

Diamond SR Carriage - Wellington, CO

E. Beard - Franktown, CO

Blue Moon Carriages -Franktown, CO

Kiowa Creek Coaches - Mead, CO

Lange Clydes - Greeley, CO

L.Leavitt - Severance, CO

Mountain Shadow Carriages - Windsor, CO

C.Muse - Milliken, CO

Rocking T Ranch - Pierce, CO

J. Sparks - Bennett, CO

H. Troyer - Fort Lupton, CO

Tired Boots Stables - Fort Lupton, CO


FARM TEAM UPDATE: Farm Team Classes will start at 8 a.m. Sunday, January 20th. 

All Entires Must Be Fully Complete, Postmarked or Submitted by Entry Deadline. Fully Complete Requires A Completed Entry Form, Stalling Form, W-9/w-8BEN and Payment.

  • Hitch Etnries Due November 5th
  • Farm Team / Individual Entries Due December 3rd

Click Here For Payment Portal





Single Cart

The single horse cart was used primarily to travel a stallion from one ranch to another for the purpose of servicing mares. Hence, the name stud cart. In judging the cart class, the judge takes into consideration both the confirmation of the horse as well as its manner of going. A cart horse should have a good snappy trot and carry it"s head up, looking alert. When the judge calls for a walk, the horse should walk and stand quietly when at a stop. A ladies cart horse should be easy to handle so she may practice proper buggy etiquette.

Tandem Hitch

Everyone has heard of tandem axle trucks and trailers but few realize the term originated with horses. When two horses are hitched, one in front of the other, they are a tandem team. This type of team was originally used when the roads and streets were too narrow to hitch two horses abreast but they still needed horsepower. The larger horse us usually hitched directly to the cart or wagon with the smaller one in front as the smaller horses are usually faster. The judge usually looks for a team that is well matched in its manner of going. The lead horse should keep traces tight but not so tight that it appears to be pulling the whole load. A tandem is one of the more difficult teams to drive as you need to keep the horses in a straight line.

Unicorn Hitch

When a team couldn't quite pull a load or get stuck in the mud, an extra horse was added to help the team out, thus adding an extra bit of horsepower. This is called a unicorn. The advantage of having one horse in the lead is all the power is being used to pull the wagon ahead, there being no sideward pull.

The Unicorn Hitch is judged on the confirmation of the horses, manner of going and a small percentage of equipment. This class takes a skilled driver as the lead horse must stay ahead of the team. On the other hand, he must not have to pull the whole load either. The team must be well matched in size and manner of going, and the lead horse, in particular, should be stylish and well mannered.

Two-Four-Six-Eight Horse Hitch

Playing a very important part in the early days were two, four, six, and eight horse hitches as they were being used for work about the cities, especially on brewery wagons. They were used for hauling chores with day wagons. Another team was added as more horsepower was required.

A team hitched directly to the wagon is called the “wheel or pole team”. This hitch is usually the largest since they do most of the pulling, and the backing of the wagon. The middle team is called the swing team. The team in front is called the lead team. When hitching an eight-horse hitch, the team behind the lead team is called the point team. The lead team usually consists of the smaller and faster horses as they must travel a greater distance when the hitch is making a turn.

In judging the combined hitches, the manner of going is of prime importance. The harness and wagon and confirmation of the horses are taken into consideration but they are not as important as how well the horses work together. All of the horses should be pulling equally so that all of the traces are tight thus the skill of the driver is very important.

Interested in supporting the 2019 Big Thunder Draft Horse Show? Please contact Dana Drake by email or phone at 970-619-4102 for various sponsorship opportunities.

If you are interested in becoming a hitch sponsor, please contact Rachel Befort by email.