Fears pipe music will put wind up draught horse

Clydesdales (from left) Major, Connor and Dark lead the way under the guidance of Erewhon Station...
Clydesdales (from left) Major, Connor and Dark lead the way under the guidance of Erewhon Station owner Colin Drummond (left) and crew member Erin Cassie (right) at Larnach Castle on Otago Peninsula. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.

Luke hates pipe bands. It's not usually an issue for a 12-year-old Clydesdale horse who spends most of his days working in the high country of Erewhon Station.

The problem is he has to march with the John McGlashan Pipe Band through the Dunedin city centre today as part of the Clydesdale Horse Society of New Zealand centennial celebrations.

"He hates pipe bands. When the drums start up, his ears go up and he gets all panicky," Erewhon Station crew member Erin Cassie said.

"So, we've been playing pipe band music on CD to get him used to it before he goes on parade.

"We play it when he comes in for breakfast. His ears twitch and he wants to run away, but then he thinks 'mmm chaff, yum'.

"The offer of food makes him stay."

Of the 10 Clydesdales at Erewhon Station, Luke had the most personality, Miss Cassie said.

"He's a massive horse with a massive head, but he doesn't always use it.

"He's like a distracted kid in class - he's pulling like everyone else on the team, but he's looking all around with those big blue eyes.

"We pick on him, but he's pretty cute. We do love him."

Erewhon Station owner Colin Drummond is one of only a few farmers in New Zealand who still use Clydesdales, and believes they can access more places on his 14,164ha station than 4x4 vehicles.

"We use them for ploughing, cultivating, mustering and carrying supplies.

"We are at the head of the Rangitata River and we need to cross a lot of streams and rivers.

"Vehicles are pretty suspect at crossing rivers, so the horses are a necessary part of farming.

"They're just as important as sheep dogs. They're like family, but you don't kiss and cuddle the buggers."

Luke will be one of about 40 Clydesdales from around New Zealand pulling about a dozen wagons, carts and buggies along St Andrew, Castle and Stuart Sts this morning.

They will be on display in the Octagon about 11am before heading to Forbury Park Raceway.

It is believed to be the largest number of Clydesdales to visit the city centre in the past 70 years.


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