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A few changes are happening this year in the horse arena with 27 performance, pleasure or fun classes, as well as English and Western classes. Riders of all ages are invited to compete for ribbons, cash awards and bragging rights. The Open Senior Horse Halter Class for horses ages 20 years and older will be introduced this year. There are separate open classes for pony and horses ages 19 years and younger. Also new this year Open Western Walk, Trot and Open English Walk, Trot Classes. There are also changes to the awards with a cash award of $10 to the first place winner in each of the 27 classes. High Point Awards are given in two age groups: age 15 and under and age 16 and over.
So, just how good are you and your horse at taking and following commands? Can you canter, counter canter, walk, trot, halt, reverse direction, turn, etc. on command and perform each perfectly? If the answer is yes, then be certain to enter the Open Command Class. Perform well and through the process of elimination you just may be the winner. The last one standing in this pay back class, will take home 50% for first place, 35% for second place and third place gets 15% of the total entry fees for this class.
Tucked into the southwest corner of Plowman’s Park is the horse arena, adjacent to Kenny Field. The majestic oaks provide a canopy of shade to relax under as you watch the showmanship and horsemanship of riders. It all starts promptly at 8:30 am on Saturday, September 16 and offers a few hours or a full day of enjoyment.
Congratulations to our 2022 High Point Winners
The Horse Show was introduced in 1984 at the 90thBig Rock Plowing Match. When asked by the Association, Big Rock residents Jim and Lois Rogers, owners of J & L Stables, took their love of horses, added lots of hard work and organized the event, secured sponsors, advertised to other stables and even donated the use of their grounds to park horse trailers on the day of the event. Plowman’s Park, with 300-year-old oak trees, was the perfect place for riders to display their equestrian skills in a variety of divisions and classes: English and Western halter, English Equitation, English and Western Pleasure, Youth and Adult Showmanship and more were featured in the early years of the show. Trophies and ribbons were awarded for each class.
Sponsors in the early years included: J & L Stables; Jughead Stables; Kane County Rangers; Sugar and Spice Pony Rides; DeKane Equipment; Pete and Don’s Harness Shop; Robert Carter; Ed Evans; Ed Mackie; Harry Pratt; Joe Ritchie; First American Bank; Swanson’s True Value; Towne Fashions; Trim Cleaners; West Plaza Barber Shop; and Wayne Laatz, Century 21 Real Estate.
Five years later, in 1989 at the 95th Plowing Match, the show added some fun events to the schedule. One of the classes was Ride-a-Buck where the rider is mounted bareback with a dollar bill tucked between him and the horse. The last rider with the dollar bill wins all the bucks lost by the other riders. Other classes were the Egg-n-Spoon performed bareback; Calcutta featuring a high bidder; and an “Over the Hill” Jack Benny class for participants over 30. Fun events continue today to amuse both participants and spectators.
The 97th Plowing Match in 1991 saw the installation of a horse arena immediately south of Kenny Field. The arena with portable fencing, 120’ x 200’, was purchased with proceeds from previous horse shows. Larger than the Cattle Ring, this new space allowed for more and different classes: Hunter Hack (jumping), Pairs (two riders performing as one), and Carry the Mail (speed and pattern riding). The show was drawing riders to compete from as far away as Rockford, Chicago and Ottawa.
Bribe Your Horse made its debut in 1994 at the 100thBig Rock Plowing Match. This fun event required the rider, owner or groomer to get their horse to follow her from one end of the arena to the other and then back again without touching the horse. A special event that year featured a harness racing demonstration by Cottonwood Farms.
The show continued to evolve and expand with classes. By 1997, the 103rd Plowing Match, there were 28 classes, as well as two High Point awards and an End of the Day drawing for a $100 cash award. The more events a rider entered, the more chances the rider had to win ribbons. Each ribbon was numbered and at the end of the day a number was drawn and the rider with the matching ribbon number received the award. A great fun way to end the day.
2004 marked the 20th Horse Show at the 110th Plowing Match. The event continued to prescribe to the ideals of competition, fun, prizes and surprises with a special emphasis on fun. The core volunteer committee stayed focused on keeping the show challenging, different, fresh, fun and better than the year before. The Judge’s focus remained on the rider, providing tips on how to make their performance even better.
The sponsor list had grown to include: Ed Evans, Harry Pratt, West Plaza Barber Shop, 411 Computers, Cottonwood Farms, Countryside Vet Clinic, Dairy-Joy, Dave’s Pizza, DeKane Equipment, Dynamic Marketing Services, Mark Franzen Stables, Pam & Bill Harvey, Judy Heim (State Farm Insurance), Hershberger Farm, Hintzsche Feed & Grain, The Lakone Company, Nelson Funeral Home, Process Dynamics, RayVac Plastics, Sunset Knoll Riding Academy and Todd Surveying.
The 30th Horse Show in 2014 at the 120thPlowing Match featured multiple just-for-fun classes including Musical Cones, Egg-n-Spoon, Trot Poles, Trot Barrels , Ride-a-Buck, Bribe Your Horse and Open Command Class. The popular audience participation Open Calcuttaclass returned. In this class, the audience is introduced to the riders. Then each rider and horse is auctioned off to the highest bidder. The high bidder will “own” the horse and rider for that class. It is a judged pleasure class (English or Western). Before the bidding begins, the Show Judge is removed from the area. All the money collected is split among the top three winning bidders as follows: 50% to 1st place, 35% to 2nd place and 15% to third place. The riders receive ribbons.
The Big Rock Plowing Match Horse Show is special in so many ways:
Horse Show Coordinators
The Big Rock Plowing Match Association is most grateful for the Coordinators, volunteers, participants and sponsors of the Horse Show. Your continued support is most appreciated.
This history was compiled from information previously published in issues of Plowing Match Times.