Every year when I attend the Ohio State Fair draft horse show, I sit next to my friend Ron Wilson, and I listen to him tell stories about a famous Belgian gelding that he bred on his farm near Zanesville.
The stories about this gelding named Chuck get a little more involved every year as Ron tries to point Chuck out to me in the hitches. I have to admit that I’ve always harbored a little doubt about the truth in his tales of Chuck because Ron is a great storyteller and enjoys teasing me.
This year my assignment for a future Ohio’s Country Journal article led me directly to the supposed owners of Chuck, the Hammersmiths of Defiance. One of the first questions I asked their driver, Jason Honsberger, was whether or not there was actually a horse in the hitch that was bred by Ron. As it turns out, Ron wasn’t exaggerating about Chuck. He is a very famous Belgian.
The Hammersmiths worked for four years to buy Chuck before he was finally sold to them in 2008. That year, he was the left lead of their six-horse hitch and he was voted to the dream team at the North American Belgian Championships. This feat in itself is pretty prestigious, but in 2012 Chuck was again voted to the dream team as a right swing horse.
The North American Belgian Championship is held only once every four years. The dream team is a special six-horse hitch that is a combination of all the best horses at the show. It is put together by contestants voting for their favorite horse in each position of the six-horse hitch. Chuck is the only horse to ever be a member of two gelding dream teams.
I watched as Chuck was readied for the Belgian gelding six-horse hitch competion at the Ohio State Fair, and I can tell you that Chuck is a pretty neat horse. His years of serving as a part of the Hammersmith show team have made him a calm and mannerly fellow to be around; yet at 12 years of age, he still struts his stuff and has stayed extremely competitive.
I may have a black Percheron in my barn at home, but Chuck has me taking a second look at Belgians. He truly is an amazing horse.