Clydesdales to pull antique plough

Straight and true . . . Sean Leslie and Casey Rae, both of Middlemarch, guide Clydesdale horses Nugget (left) and Anna at the Waimea Plains ploughing match in Southland on October 7. PHOTOS: KATIE SUTHERLAND

A steel plough forged in Mosgiel more than a century ago will feature behind a pack of Clydesdales in Middlemarch this weekend – possibly for the final time.

Tom Fowler (84), of Tuatapere, said he would compete in the annual Middlemarch Ploughing Match on Sunday.

He would be operating a double-furrow horse plough, pulled by four Clydesdale horses from Middlemarch.

The plough was built in J. Fowler Agriculture Implement Works in Mosgiel.

James Fowler, who owned the foundry, was the uncle of Mr Fowler’s father.

The foundry which included nine furnaces, opened on the corner of Gladstone Rd South and Quarry Rd in 1870 and closed in 1900.

The match on Sunday could be the final time the plough would be pulled by horses, as his son and grandsons had not shown any interest in continuing the family tradition.

The use of horses to pull the plough was a “one-off”.

Mr Fowler was using horses to pull the plough on Sunday because had already qualified for the national final in Rakaia in May, where he would pull the plough with a tractor.

Middlemarch Ploughing Club match organiser Sean Leslie, of Middlemarch, said the match would be held in a paddock in Garthmyl Rd from 9.30am to 1.30pm.

Competitors would drive tractors in the conventional, vintage and reversible categories.

range from the 1940s to “modern-day tractors fresh out of the box”.

The tractor drivers were talented, he said.

“They’re working pretty hard to do what they do.”

Competitors in the horse-ploughing category would guide Clydesdale horses.

“Seeing heavy horses work is pretty cool and that’s how all the land was broken in back in the day.”

A panel of eight judges would be inspecting the tipped-over soil for straightness, weed control and general appearance.

Teams would be practising on site from 11am on Saturday.

The public was welcome on both days.