Work horses make heavy work of world record mark in southern New South Wales – CONGRATULATIONS TO CCHS WA MEMBER PHIL LUCRE AND HIS TEAM!!
photo: Heavy horse breeds set off across the paddock seeking to break the world mark for number ploughing
The luck of the Irish was not with heavy horse aficionados gathered in Yass in southern New South Wales for a tilt at the world ploughing record.
Predominantly Clydesdale owners with a smattering of other heavy workhorses, the target was 85 horses.
They all had to be pulling some kind of plough continuously and simultaneously across the paddock for 60 seconds.
Some had travelled from as far away as near Perth in Western Australia to help wrest back the title taken last year by the Irish.
Australia had been able to claim bragging rights from the same paddock that was the scene for the 2016 attempt.
With teams ranging from one horse pulling a plough to around 11, they lined up across the paddock.
Watching on were hundreds of spectators enjoying a vantage point provided by the hill overlooking the scene.
A bell was rung signalling the start and then 60 seconds later it was again struck.
However disaster struck only seconds into the attempt with three teams breaking loose and heading in the wrong direction.
The final count was 58 horses had managed to satisfy the scrutineers.
Falling short of the world mark, at least participants were able to claim to be part of the Australian record.
It was not so much the title but a way of paying homage to the breed that is diminishing in numbers after playing a major role in early Australian European farming.
"I'd hate to see them go out completely because they made the country," explained Fred Broso who breeds Clydesdales near Wagga.
"I'd like to see the young folks learn a bit about them to keep them going forever. That's why I've go a soft spot for the horses."
Mr Broso who brought an eight-strong team is in his eighties and has worked horses most of his life.
"I'd like a few young ones get interested and to learn before any of the older generation finish and therefore they don't have anyone to help them."
In the case of Victorian Jane Hallam, the need to maintain the old breeds was even more important.
She was there with Nash, her Suffolk Punch.
They are listed as critically endangered worldwide with only five in Australia with 300 around the globe.
"I guess I fell in love with them six years ago. I thought I would get one and help try and save the breed," said Ms Hallam.
Although in Australia it is even a greater problem, as Ms Hallam had Nash gelded several years ago, as the only mares in Australia were too closely related to him.
To get this done she sought permission from the England-based Suffolk Punch association.
The breed was developed from the Suffolk area of England, which Ms Hallam explained made the even more rare.
Organiser Chris Broers lost a mare earlier this year after she developed an infection following her giving birth to a stillborn foal.
He was philosophical about the failed record attempt
"I do it to show our horses off. To get that many horses together that can actually work. It is quite difficult.
"In Ireland you can ride your horse to the event from one side of the country to the other. Here it is 4,000 kilometres from one side to the other."
GOLDEN PLOUGH WINNER: PHIL LUCRE
One of those who had made the trek from the west to the east was Phil Lucre who spends his working day with heavy earthmoving machinery.
Driving across the Nullarbor transporting 11 horses is in itself a task.
In this case it was made even more difficult by two of his horses which were in the same float taking a dislike to each other.
Mr Lucre was nonplussed as the two when back home share the same paddock without a problem.
Fortunately they kissed and made up and were able to take part.
Mr Lucre noted that the standard of horse differed, with some able to handle the pressure, while some were probably not really ready.
Despite this, he said it was all worthwhile, being able to take part and mix with like-minded people.
He will be hoping though that on the return journey, his two Clydesdales would not resume hostilities.