By Mick Jensen
He’s owned and bred them for 17 years, but on June 3, John Booth will tackle his first ploughing competition with two of his beloved clydesdales.
Home-bred horses Sam and Anja will be harnessed and used for the single-furrow event at the Hinds Young Farmers ploughing match.
The challenge is made a little bit more complicated because in recent weeks the clydesdales have been trained to walk in circles to work a horse-powered chaff cutter.
John Booth, who runs Dayboo Stud near Hinds with his partner Gaye Day, said he had only started plough training a month ago.
“There’s a lot to learn, but there’s a lot of coaches to offer advice. Someone twisted my arm to give it a go, so I am.”
He said he needed to practise driving the plough and the horses needed to get fitter and to walk in a straight line.
Plough practise was taking place on his uncle’s property near Hinds, just a few kilometres away from the location of the June match.
John has received coaching advice from the Andrew brothers of Timaru and will use the same plough that won a silver plough event three decades ago.
“I just hope the ground dries out a bit between then and now because it’s heavy going at the moment.”
Gaye Day said horses at Dayboo learnt to respond to voice commands from a young age.
Horses first pulled tyres and later sleds and light gigs.
Her horse Anja had been a reserve champion under saddle at the Christchurch show and was a real workhorse, whereas Sam was a bit lazy.
Anja, 8, and Sam, 6, both weighed in at around 700kg and were slightly over 16 hands high, she said.
Dayboo Stud is home to 18 clydesdales, including two stallions, four foals and four 2/3 year olds.
While John does the harness work, Gaye breaks in young horses and runs the stud.
The couple have been asked to appear in a horse film to be filmed in Wanaka and proudly paraded Sam and Anja at the back of last Sunday’s Wheels Week Street Parade.