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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



Special Features






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.