Boone County Fair Unveils New Horse Show

- BELVIDERE -- "This is a county that everybody comes together in [sic] and makes this event special,” said Boone County fair president, Lyle Lee.

This year the fair has added a new horse stunt show, and if the audience reaction is any indication of the new addition being a hit, the stands are literally roaring from a performance by Percheron Thunder, a team of six Percheron horses driven by a single driver.

"When he comes out you can hear the ground shake, and feel it, and it really does sound like thunder," says Matt Duffy, Chief Worker at Avoidance Acres, a horse farm in McFarland, Wisconsin, who brought his horses out to the Boone County Fair.

Jason Goodman is the owner and driver of Percheron Thunder and he's been Roman riding horses for twenty years.  Roman riding is a trick riding technique in which the owner stands atop a pair of horses, with one foot on each horse.  Roman riding is one of the oldest forms of riding, and was performed during the time of the Roman Empire.

"[There are] no harness or pulls," says Goodman, describing the technique.  "There's nothing really holding them together, so you really [have] got to focus on keeping everything in its right position,” said Goodman.

Falling off is just a part of the job.  Goodman fell off four times in a half hour when he was first practicing for one of his shows.  "I had a brand new wheel team and they just would not stick in the corners," he says.  "Whenever we'd go into the corners, I'd just hit the ground."

Goodman says that eventually, riders learn how to fall without breaking any bones.

Once the rider and the horses have practiced the moves enough to get it right, the results can be incredible.

"You know what's really neat, when you do get a nice drive and all six of them [together], it's like you and them [sic] are one, going around the arena," Goodman says.

"They just make your heart beat and your eyes swell up," adds Lee, of the experience of seeing the spectacle live.  "This is phenomenal."

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