By Yelena Filippovich
Minsk has hosted its first thoroughbred horse show, with several dozen animals from Belarusian equestrian clubs and private stables taking part. The BelExpo National Exhibition Centre also hosted two special guests from Russia: beautiful shire and tinker horses.
Visitors flocked to the exhibition pavilion from early in the morning. Equestrian enthusiasts were joined by members of the general public; young fathers imitated sniffing horses to entertain toddlers on their shoulders, smiling and laughing.
Undoubtedly, the demonstration of various horse breeds was the highlight of the day. Orlov Trotters and Belarusian draught horses proudly walked around the arena, joined by Latvian, Frisian, Arab and Trakehner horses. Belarusian draught horses are our only national breed, being the colour of creamy bleached flax (a national symbol). In comparison to the heavy draught horses from Russia, there were miniature Scottish ponies, creating a spectacular sight.
Shire horse Harlequin is the tallest horse in Europe, being 197cm to his shoulder; only one other is taller — being 203cm tall, in Australia. Shire horses were bred for knights to use in battle and are very friendly and calm, despite their impressive size and power. Hairy-hoofed Harlequin shifted from walking to trotting at his master’s command, showing off in front of the audience. A great piebald Irish Cob, or tinker horse, performed alongside. Of course, Arabian horses are the most graceful, being modest in size and very light on their feet; their ‘dry feet’ (as equestrians say) seem to fly over the ground.
Riders from an equestrian school in the Pukhovichi District (Zazerie village) gave a demonstration, as did those from the Golden Spur Historical Club. Horse harnesses, carriages and special equestrian clothing were on show, while children were offered the chance to ride a horse or take a trip in a horse-drawn cart.
The exhibition of horses seems likely to occupy the same place in the capital’s cultural life as pedigree cat and dog shows. The organisers worked hard to ensure an interesting and educational event.