Calgary – It was a day to remember for Zeph Lariviere, the Saskatchewan handler and driver for Johnson’s Belgians, as he cleaned up on the final day of Heavy Horse events. Winning Best in Show, the team was also named World Champions in the prestigious Calgary Stampede Heavy Horse World Champion Six Horse Hitch competition.
This is Lariviere’s fourth time competing in the World Champion Six Horse Hitch and the first time circling the ring as a World Champion.
“The key to our success today is everyone working hard every day to make sure we were prepared and to make sure that we had a good steady drive,” he humbly credited.
Gayle Gerein, owner of Johnson Belgians of Unity, SK, couldn’t be more thrilled with the $10,000 win on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to own and show Belgians and when I saw Zeph show several years ago, I phoned him up and we started showing at the Calgary Stampede four years ago.”
The majestic heavy horses have been showing in Calgary even before the inception of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth in 1886. Not only is it the longest running agricultural competition at the Stampede, it is also the oldest heavy horse show in North America.
Pulling immaculately styled freight wagons, these impressive horses weighing around one-ton apiece strutted their stuff to a cheering audience at the Nutrien Western Events Centre on Sunday.
“This is the first year with this six. We have several youngsters, and they did us proud. A shout-out to the horses whose names are Duke, Angie, Ricky-Bud, Seth, Diamond and Laney for their performance today,” gushed Gerein.
Lariviere added, “I’ve been coming here since I was 13 years old, and I started with one horse and here I am today showing a six-horse hitch. It’s pretty cool.”
Making the afternoon even more memorable for this team was the announcement that Ava Ruthven, also associated with Johnson Belgians, won the Youth Aggregate Award.
“Oh my gosh, it’s all so exciting. All I wanted was to win to the “six” in Calgary and we finally did it. It’s an awesome feeling. We have an awesome driver, and the horses are awesome and I’m so proud of everybody,” exclaimed Gerein.
Visit ag.calgarystampede.com/results for full results from the World Six and the Heavy Horse Show.