AUSTRALIAN Draught horses are the inaugural feature breed at St Heliers Heavy Horse Field Days, a weekend that showcases the talents of the larger-hoofed equines like Clydesdales, Shires, Percherons and Draught horses.
St Heliers Heavy Horse Field Days president Louise Turner, of Quirindi, said the committee was expecting 50 to 80 horses, including a good turnout of 10 to 12 Australian Draught horses.
Noon on Saturday is the event’s official opening followed by an impressive grand parade.
“Everything’s ready to go,” Ms Turner said.
“This year’s obstacle course will be a lot more natural looking; instead of witches’ hats you’ll see things you’d see in the bush, like trees and branches, and the horses will need to do things like pull up on a bridge and walk through a tunnel.”
For Pam and Tony Parry, Dalswinton Clydesdales, Denman, the field days are a chance to compete with their beautiful horses in a great atmosphere, surrounded by competitive yet encouraging and fun people.
The Parrys, also event committee members, have only owned Clydies for five years as Mrs Parry always wanted to own one but have since become a joint passion for the couple.
They have enjoyed success with their mare Matilda, 5, who has won the slide obstacle three times at the Sydney Show, and Charlotte, 18 months, who this year won supreme led heavy horse.
“The St Heliers field days are quite unique, if you have a versatile horse you can compete in 10 classes,” Pam explained.
“At local Ag shows you may only get a couple of classes.”
For Tony, who freely admits he “loves a chat”, it’s fascinating to talk to the spectators from the older generation who remember when heavy horses were used in paddocks before mechanical implements and tractors.
“You can learn from those old fellas, pick up tips from the way they used to do things,” Mr Parry said.
“It’s amazing the number of people who come up and just want to give the horses a pat,” Mrs Parry added.
The SHHH field days were established in 2006 and last year attracted more than 3000 people.
Events start at 8am both days with led classes on Saturday morning, followed by vehicle and handler classes, then the long rein obstacle, slide classes and ploughing.
Kevin and Ben Sullivan, of Casino, will judge the ploughing for the second year running and also explain the technicalities of the event to the crowd.
Ridden classes are first up on Sunday morning while the last classes are the hay carting/stacking and the interestingly-titled pumpkin snatch.
For more details on St Heliers Heavy Horse Field Days click here.