Ploughing Horses & Presidential Elections
Well we all know who is getting Paddy’s vote!
With the Irish Presidential election this week, we have polled the horses and Michael D. has a landslide majority here on the farm!
In the winter months when things settle down and all the visitors have travelled home, some of our horses set off to live their second life as plough horses for 6 months. The main event in the ploughing calendar is the National Ploughing Championship which takes place every September, just after our caravan season has finished.
It is the largest annual event in the farming community in Ireland and attracts people from all walks of life… including our lovely President, Michael D Higgins.
While it is fun to have the president whisper the inside scoop in your ear, the Ploughing Championship for our horses is all about the Ploughing. The ground they cover as part of the competition is not large, so it is all about precision and working well as a team.
The ploughmen use white feathers to mark out the line from one side of the plot to the other and the key is to stay as straight as possible and cross your fingers for no stones to knock you off track.
There is a lot of tinkering on the plough with a spanner the effects of which I cannot pretend to understand and then a gentle word to the horses to walk on steady. After a few short steps everything comes to a halt to assess how straight progress has been and then another nod to the horses to go on again.
It’s a slow process and the winning is in the fine details, a good measuring tape and a steady patient pair of horses. Our Paddy and Toby always go as a pair, as do Larry and Zeb. Previous generations of horses have also ploughed before them such as Mike and Lazy Simon, the piebald duo of Oscar and Oliver and the lovely gentle Andy and Bravo.
It gives us immense pride to see our horses being handled so well, mastering a new skill and enjoying themselves. I smile like a proud mummy on the sidelines, no doubt embarrassing our cool gentle giants!