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Highlights Archives

Villa Louis Carriage Classic September 11-12

A horse and carriage plow through a water trap during the cross-country competition at the Villa Louis Carriage Classic

The 30th anniversary edition of the magnificent and ever-popular Villa Louis Carriage Classic takes place at the elegant Victorian estate Saturday and Sunday, September 11-12. The Villa Louis in Prairie du Chien hosts the event each year on the weekend following Labor Day, transforming its spacious grounds on the banks of the Mississippi River into a scene reminiscent of its own heyday when the estate's owner, H. Louis Dousman, operated it as a breeding farm for raising fine Standardbred trotting horses used in harness racing. This year the event runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, with tours of the Victorian mansion offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Several Classes of Sport Driving Competition

More than 100 turnouts — the term includes the driver, carriage, animals and their manner of presentation — will take part in a variety of classes of sport driving competition that include obstacle courses, cross-country rides and arena shows. Several specialty classes add to the variety, including Carriage Dog, the ever-popular Picnic Class in which entries are judged on performance and quality of turnout, dress of passengers and presentation of the picnic itself. Following the Picnic Class at noon on Saturday, spectators will be treated to a demonstration showcasing the fun and popular sport of Flyball, a relay race for dogs involving a series of hurdles and a spring-loaded box that the dogs step on to eject a ball the dogs catch and carry back through the gauntlet of hurdles.

In the competitive classes, which include Cones, Reinsmanship, Cross Country, Gambler's Choice, and Working Pleasure, drivers, or whips, go head to head in a series of divisions that take into account such distinguishing characteristics as single-horse versus multiple-horse hitches, juniors, novice drivers, and large and small horses and ponies. Judges rank competitors based on such factors as elapsed times, difficulty of obstacles, reinsmanship skill of the driver, and the performance and manner of the horses. Shortly after noon on Sunday a new event celebrating the Carriage Classic's 30th anniversary, the Alumni Class for past participants only, will take place. The event comes to a close with the chic Concourse d'Elegance in which the overall elegance of the turnouts is judged.

Step Inside One of America's Most Authentically Restored Victorian Mansions

If you make the excursion to Prairie du Chein for the Villa Louis Carriage Classic, you'll want to include time for a tour of the restored rooms of the Villa Louis mansion and the Dousman office building. Mansion tours are included in the cost of admission, so treat yourself to a peek inside one of the most authentically furnished Victorian country houses in all of America.

If You Go

For complete details on admission, hours, a map, distances from various cities, and other information, see Villa Louis' visitor information pages. For a complete rundown of competitors, competition classes, divisions, registration details and other information, visit the home page of Villa Louis Carriage Classic, Inc., which sponsors the annual event.

:: Posted September 7, 2010

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