|Inside Mellor Hall|
But the indoor exhibitions are just a small part of the fair. Outside are rows of farm machinery, portable sawmill demonstrations, barns full of animals, riding competitions, the mini-donut trailer and other fair foods, and countless other things to see and do.
I meandered down to the lower field where the farm equipment and other outdoor displays were on show. School kids favoured this display of old hand pumps and spent ages pumping and watching the clear water spill out, letting it splash on their hands and shirts:
|Kids having fun|
Farm machinery in bright reds and blues and greens and yellows made for a colourful sight, though my friend and I couldn’t help wonder about the company that came up with this name for their machine:
|I think I prefer "John Deere"!|
Returning back up to the barns, I watched an interesting demonstration of sheep shearing using hand shears, then a manually powered set of clippers, and finally today’s modern electric clippers. Having helped with alpaca shearing myself, I found the differences between how sheep and alpaca are sheared interesting. The shearer at the fair, an Australian who ‘retired’ from full time shearing but still does it on the side, was highly skilled and had a kind and gentle touch with the animals. This girl didn’t seem to mind the process in the least and never showed any signs of panic or stress:
|Shearer explains the process|
|Just a little off the top, please!|
|Mmmmmm.....Old Spice, or is that Shearer's Special?|
|Aw shucks, did I say I wanted a buzz cut?|
Here, the children in the audience helped power the hand-cranked machine for the early prototypes of electric shears.
The necessity of annual shearing was brought home when the shearer’s daughter told us of a sheep left unsheared for four years, whose coat, when soaked with rain, weighed hundreds of pounds. What a relief that sheep must have felt once all that fleece was removed!
And then there were the horses. Ohhhh the horses – thoroughbreds and standardbreds, Norwegians and Icelandics, and one that I had never seen before but heard of just recently on someone’s blog (though now I can't remember where and can't locate it on the ones I read regularly) – a saddlebred.
I was puzzled by the saddlebred, for it looked positively deformed and terribly thin. The huge dip behind its shoulders accentuated the clearly visible ribs and gave it an awkward stance that made my own back hurt to look at. I asked a horseperson nearby if this was how a saddlebred was supposed to look – if it was a good example of the type and close to the ‘standard’ of the breed – but she didn’t know much about them though she did point me to an information poster.
I’m still at a loss, and I know I have horsey readers here so I’m hoping for some enlightenment. What I want to know is this – does a typical saddlebred have such a pronounced dip/swayback? Do their ribs usually show? Are they a fairly rare breed or is it just coincidence that I’ve never seen them before? Do they require a different type of saddle than other riding horses to accommodate that sway back? Are they prone to orthopedic problems more than other breeds? (I can’t help thinking of the German Shepherd show standards that favour a sloped back to such an extent that the breed is now plagued with hip, leg and spine problems!). Here's a closer shot of the saddlebred at the fair, though I must say it doesn’t look quite as shocking as it did in person, partly because I couldn’t get a good angle to take a photograph without the fence rail being in the way.:
This post is quite long enough, so I will leave one more set of photos (including more horsey ones!) and another topic with some food for thought for tomorrow.