Jackson Fork Ranch of Little Jackson Hole, Wyoming is the world champion of the six-horse hitch.
Ross Honsberger of Bellevue has been around draft horses his whole life, since his parents raised Percheron horses. He started to show draft horses in high school, and during that time he also started doing a little bit of farrier work, which lasted through college. After college, he became a farrier by trade where he would work for anybody that he could to gain the experience that came with the knowledge of being around horses. That line of work landed him an interview with the Jackson Fork Ranch back in 2016, although at that time it did not lead to a job. In the meantime, Ross went to work as a farrier and showed Percherons owned by his in-laws, Doyle and Renee Dingman. A few years later in 2019 Jackson Fork Ranch reached back out to Ross and offered him an opportunity to drive their hitch and he accepted. Over the years they maintained a good relationship. Ross did not have to worry about starting back at square one being with a new team because the nice folks at Jackson Fork Ranch bought five mares from the Dingmans. So although he changed whom he was driving for, he nearly kept his whole team.
Since becoming a part of the Jackson Fork Ranch team Ross and his wife, Nicole, have won the world championship of the six horse hitch all breed in 2020. Even more impressive than one world championship, they have gone on to win that same world title in 2021, 2022, and now again for 2023. After winning so many world championships, I asked Ross if there is added pressure, and he said, “No, there is no added pressure, the only pressure is what I put on myself. Really if anything it’s more of a relief, not pressure. A goal that I have is to make sure there is no stress on the horses.” From seeing Ross drive the team of Jackson Fork Ranch at the Michigan Great Lakes Invitation at Michigan State University for the past four years, it is evident that his horsemanship is outstanding, that speaks to the team’s success.
This year’s World Finals Six Hitch Horse Classic took place in Shipshewana, Indiana on September 21-23. Ross and Nicole’s six horse team, consisting of half geldings and half mares, won the first two nights and placed second the final night of competition. Ross and Nicole went into the World Finals leading the season with the most points, a comfortable cushion, and the Jackson Fork Ranch team took a break for some much needed rest after such hard work that went into the season.
Looking ahead, Ross told me he would like to keep going, saying that, to get one more world championship title would tie Jackson Fork Ranch with the most titles won. Since the World Finals Six Hitch Horse Classic last month Ross, Nicole, and the rest of the team, which is mostly all family, have competed in a competition each weekend. Coming up, they have a competition in January that will be in Denver and then a couple weeks later on February 2-4 in Ocala, Florida at the World Equestrian Center.
Being local from Bellevue, we are all proud of Ross and Nicole Honsberger for all of their hard work and great success!