Two Strathclair, Manitobaarea sisters know full well how the adage, “if you want a stable friendship – get a horse,” rings true.
The lives of Charity and Britney Martin are enriched through the pleasures of being involved in the horse industry. Not from a light horse perspective, but having a fondness for animals that stand a few hands higher in draft horses.
A passion for raising, showing and promoting the Clydesdale breed of heavy horse in association with their parents, Blaine and Trinda Martin, is deeply rooted. From the farm gate of Boulder Bluff Clydesdales, located nine kilometres south of the village, or on the road at small or large shows, Charity, 16, and her 14-year-old sister Britney are fourth-generation family members to take pride in being involved, no matter the task.
“Showing Clydesdales is something that means a lot to me and I hope that I can remain showing for the rest of my life,” said Charity, a Grade 11 student. “I enjoy competing in the junior classes and also showing our horses on the line and in driving classes.”
Being in a show ring is also a passion of Britney’s. “Showing horses is a lot of hard work at home but if you win a championship or even a first-place ribbon your hard work pays off. It makes you feel good about something you have done, as it’s a challenge to get them looking their best.”
This past summer, enthusiasm for the Clydesdale horse (commonly referred to as the “gentle giant”) went above and beyond the call of preparation for the big show, as the sisters were chosen to serve as queens from a national and provincial standpoint.
In July, Charity had the opportunity to attend one of the most unique agriculture showcases in the world – the Calgary Stampede – as the reigning 2009 Canadian Clydesdale Association Queen, while she and Britney – the Manitoba Clydesdale Club Queen – both served as goodwill ambassadors at various events including the Prince Albert Exhibition in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Closer to home, together they represented their respective associations at the Harding Fair, and the 20th anniversary of the Manitoba Clydesdale Classic held in conjunction with the Austin Threshermen’s Reunion and Stampede. Along with Katelynn Baker of Newdale, a former queen of the Manitoba High School Rodeo Association, the sisters also had the privilege of leading the annual Strathclair Parade.
Very proud of their daughters, Blaine and Trinda are quite confi dent that they are representing the organizations with class, knowledge and a smile.
“Charity and Britney both have a soft hand with a horse and with the lines and have become quite knowledgeable on conformation. Last summer they worked and showed for Greenwood Farms in Michigan for two weeks, attending the U. S. National Show in Milwaukee where Charity won the Senior Showmanship and Britney was second in the Junior Cart class.”
This year, they were among the girls and boys to showcase their talents at Austin, with the 20th annual Classic being one of the biggest shows hosted by the provincial club in the last few years. Along with 130 horses being entered, youth were featured with an award being presented to the overall top showman in both junior categories (10 to 13 years) and (14 to 17) of the show. Charity and Britney were two of the top three in the senior group, who finished within two points of each other based on points tabulated from showmanship on the line, the cart class, the junior driver of a team and a judging class.
Because so few young women are chosen from the western part of Canada, having the opportunity to meet a lot of great people, at great shows, as the Canadian queen will be forever treasured by Charity. Great shows yet to come are the Toronto Royal and Regina Agribition in November. Handing out ribbons, thanking class sponsors and helping to enhance the image of the Clydesdale horse as part of her queen’s duties, also has been a wonderful experience for Britney, who has come to realize how much the small things in life really matter from serving as a youth role model.
– Darrell Nesbitt writes from Shoal Lake, Manitoba