Morgans ploughingA team of four Morgans are the New Zealand horse-ploughing champions after taking the national title in the lead-up to the 57th World Ploughing Championships held in New Zealand in April.

The Morgan team also ploughed as part of a demonstration event at the World Championships which this year featured tractor competitors from about 65 countries. For reasons of quarantine restrictions and transport costs, a world horse-ploughing event is not held.
Father and son Peter and Jason Robson, of Southland, New Zealand, were the ploughmen behind the lines guiding the Morgan four. It was the fourth time they had won the horse-ploughing national title at the Mobil Silver Plough event.

The team of Morgans were led by purebred stallion Quietude Goldrush and his progeny Armagh Rebecca, Armagh Billy and Armagh Britney. Peter purchased Quietude Goldrush as an unbroken rising three-year-old stallion from Susan and Shannon Hanley at the Quietude Stud in West Virginia in 1994.

In order to compete at the New Zealand finals, the Morgans ploughed in eight regional qualifying matches. The Silver Plough national final is a two-day event, with the first day being ploughed on stubble and the second day on grassland.
The horse-ploughing competition, which runs alongside the tractor event, is restricted to six finalists, and this year included teams of predominantly Clydesdales and Clydesdale-crosses.

Peter says the plots are drawn by lot prior to competition. The size of the plot at the New Zealand final was 18 feet by 300 feet. Known as “plain-ploughing”, the competition is judged on straightness, uniformity, the opening and closing of the plot and overall general appearance. Weed control and tightness of ploughing is also factored into the judging. The time allotted to each team is three hours.

The method of harness, or the hitch, used by Peter and Jason, is a common style of hitch in New Zealand known as blocks and chains. It spreads the weight evenly across all four horses.

The plough they use is a New Zealand-made 1920s Reid and Gray single-furrow. “We find that four Morgans to the single-furrow, and six or seven horses hitched to a two-furrow, allows the horses to comfortably plough a full eight-hour day. It’s better to be over-horsed, than under-horsed,” Peter says.

Peter and Jason have been competing with their Morgans for 10 years. They have ploughed at the New Zealand finals since 2006, winning the title that year and also in 2007 and 2008.

Peter says his Morgans operate in variety of environments, working in harness as a five-in-hand pulling a replica 1820s stage-coach at weddings and historic occasions, through to working on film productions.

“The ploughing is very good training for the horses. It is a good discipline for them. It teaches them how to pull as a team. There’s often a lot of standing around and stopping and starting, so they learn to be patient and to work together,” Peter says.

 

Selection of photographs attached – photograph details as follows:  

Jock is harnessed as off-side lead (front left),Becky at on-side lead (front right), Britney at off-side hind (back left) and Billy at on-side hind (back right). Peter is the older Robson, Jason, the younger! All taken at the competition grounds in Methven, New Zealand.

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