Rebecca Doss will mount

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 24, 2001

gentle giant this weekend


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Jan. 23, 2001 10 PM

When people think of Belgian horses, they usually think of the "Budweiser" horses pulling a wagon through the Christmas snow.

The thought of a little girl riding high atop one of the big animals hardly ever crosses one’s mind. But, after this weekend,

that will be a vivid picture in the minds of all those who attend the Horse Fair at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery.

Rebecca Doss, a fourth grader at Troy Elementary School, will do what few other youngsters will ever do. She will mount one the "Gentle Giants" of the equestrian world and demonstrate how easy it is to ride a 1600-pound Belgian.

Rebecca will demonstrate the ease of handling and riding a Gentle Giant as part of a demonstration by Harvey and Mary Helen Johnson of Happy Trails Farm at the Horse Fair in Montgomery this weekend.

Mrs. Johnson said similar shows have been held in Huntsville and Birmingham, but this is the first show of its kind to be held in Montgomery. The show is sponsored by the Alabama Horse Council and will feature demonstrations of different breeds of horses, group meetings and various other activities of interest to "horse lovers."

"Of special interest will be the entertainment of Ga Wa Mi Pony Boy, an accomplished author, speaker and horseman and creator of "Relationship Training."

The Johnsons will represent the Belgian Draft Horse breed in the Showcase of Breeds as each breed of horse and their owner(s) will be in the spotlight.

"Draft horses are primarily used for pulling, due to their size and strength," Mrs. Johnson said. "However there is another use for the Draft horses that is becoming more popular than ever – that is riding them for pleasure."

Mrs. Johnson said she and her husband invited Rebecca to assist them in their demonstration by riding "Rudy" in order to show how easily the "Gentle Giants" can be handled.

"Rebecca comes out and rides two or three times a week

and she loves it," Mrs. Johnson said. "She is one of the most enthusiastic riders I have ever seen. We knew she would bring an excitement to riding these giant horses and everyone would enjoy her demonstration."

Rebecca and the Johnsons have been working with Rudy to the tune of the "Tijuana Brass."

"We’ve only worked with him two days and he has already learned to ‘step’ to the beat of the music," Mrs. Johnson said. "It’s amazing. We think everyone will really enjoy the riding demonstration and we know Rebecca will do a good job."

Even though the Belgians are known as "Gentle Giants," they are still big, strong animals.

"They are not aggressive animals," Mrs. Johnson said. "They are just big babies, but they could easily break a foot if they step on you. You have to respect them because they could hurt you without meaning to."

The Alabama Horse Council’s Horse Fair begins at 9 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday and anyone who enjoys watching beautiful horses perform is invited to attend.