On a cloudy morning in Kilrea, the cream of Northern Irish Clydesdale stallions gathered. I had spent a week looking forward to my first Clydesdale show. I drove for an hour and a half and arrived at 10 o'clock. With judging due to commence at 11, preparations were already well underway.
This stallion was having ribbons put in his mane.
...and having his tail plaited.
It was another stallion's turn next.
This one, called Hillview Braveheart, was unloaded and stood to have his ribbons put on.
Meanwhile, Ambassador was having his feathers cleaned with sand.
Finishing touches on the mane...
The stallions stood very patiently.
There was a lot to see for them.
I discovered to my delight that this stallion doesn't live very far from here. By the time I'd written this, I'd forgotten his name, but thanks goes to Cyrstalmoccasins for putting me right. This is Dairylough Lord Mic-ki:
Even the foals had their tails decorated.
Lord Mic-ki was almost ready to show.
As was Braveheart.
I wandered into the mart itself, and to my delight I found some more Clydesdales. There was one with the best mane I have ever seen.
There was a lovely colt.
And another huge stallion who was having his ribbons put on.
Soon it was time to show. The three colts were up before the judge first.
Next up was a colt called Ross.
The judge (in the green coat and cap) examined him closely.
This was the final colt,
The foals had to walk and trot before the judge.
First place was awarded to this colt.
A lap of honour, proudly displaying his red rosette.
The stallions awaited their turn patiently.
Some trotting to warm up...
All of the horses were groomed to perfection.
The stallions walked a few laps of the yard.
Then they lined up in front of the judge - but wait, two were missing...
A few moments later, the two missing stallions emerged from inside...
...and the line-up was complete.
Lord Mic-ki was judged first.
Next up was this one.
As with the colts, stallions walked and trotted back and forth for the judge.
Then were examined.
Ambassador was next.
Then it was Braveheart's turn.
Next was the stallion with that amazing mane.
Last but not least was this one.
When it came for the judge to make a decision, poor Lord Mic-ki wasn't placed.
Three stallions were given a Premium Stallion rosette. The one with the mega mane...
This one was a Premium Stallion as well.
As things started to wind down, I went back inside. The winning colt was very proud of himself.
Third-place winner, Ross:
I really like this stallion's colour, and lovely dapples.
The winning colt was in a pen next to one of the Premium Stallions.
The horses were very gentle.
I took a lot of photos of him - he was just lovely.
The horse with the long mane was relaxing after all that hard work.
After three hours, it was time for home...
I had a wonderful time at my first Clydesdale show. I shall certainly visit more (and write down names)! Thanks to everyone who let me take so many photographs, and a huge congratulations to the Premium Stallions!