Takes Two!

By Charley Snowdon By Charley Snowdon

ploughing competitions. Tony and Jo live in East Sussex on part of their family farm


where they surround themselves with dogs, horses and goats. “The goats were meant to eat the nettles in the field”, sighs Tony looking out across a clump of weeds disrupting his pasture. “As you can see, they like the good stuff as much as the horses!” The farm prides itself on all their animals living in harmony,

where the mischievous goats graze alongside mares and foals and every time I look up, I am greeted by another hound! “Now, if you came here expecting to see two shire horses, I am sorry, but I am going to have to disappoint you”, informs Tony whilst introducing me to a pair of small (14.1hh), short coupled cobs. “Meet Storm and Mars my two mini shires!” These two identical geldings are super cute and are quite

obviously the best of friends. True, this was not exactly what I was expecting but Tony assures me that his horses achieve as much as their bigger cousins. “They are on a par with the shires at competitions”, says Tony. “Many people love the shires for their impressive size and looks but cobs are much cheaper to run.”

Indeed, Storm and Mars live on just grass and hay and are in tip- top condition. “We have had shires in the past, but they literally ate us out of house and home!” laughs Jo. “These cobs do the same job and more and for a lot less fuel!” Tony is super proud of his newly purchased plough and is keen

to show me how it works. “This is the skim that cuts a little groove into the land which is then buried by the main mole board”, informs Tony. “The weight of the plough has to be considered in relation to the size of the horse, but the experts assure me that the draught on the ‘shoe’ and the mole board is only two hundred weight.”


Unsurprisingly, Tony may as well have been speaking Japanese

ony Parks prides himself on being a traditional ploughman and together with his wife Jo and his matching pair of work horses they enjoy travelling the country competing in

to me but aſter my slightly embarrassing confession he was happy to explain. “Basically, it means the total weight that the horses will pull when the plough enters the ground is ‘two hundred weight’ which is about the same as four bags of horse feed.” Storm and Mars work the plough as a pair and their harness is

a practical, synthetic affair that Tony admits can be popped in the washing machine aſter use. “You are not judged on your turnout, unlike showing at ploughing competitions, this harness actually comes from the Amish in the States”, explains Tony. “Only the collars need to be sponged off by hand and for me it just makes life easier.” The collars are surprisingly light and adjustable, and both

horses do not bat an eye when Tony places and turns them over their heads. “There should always be room for you to fit your fist between the horse’s shoulder and chest where the collar lies”, instructs Tony. “Horses need space to breathe otherwise it would be like you running a marathon with a choker around your neck. A horse that is correctly working and harnessed doesn’t pull on its forehand but pushes and works from behind and through.” The next piece of harness to be placed over the collar is the hames that distribute the load around the horse’s neck and shoulders. “These ones are steel”, says Tony pointing at the glistening silver balled ‘handles’ rising from each collar. “The hames are what the horses pull off and are made in various materials including wood. We have steel hames as nothing is harder than pulling a plough.” Storm and Mars have temperaments to die for but even despite this, I am still slightly surprised to see them both bitted in Happy Mouth snaffles. “How many cobs do you see driven in a snaffle let alone a Happy Mouth?” laughs Tony. “They are so good they don’t need anything else.” The cobs are soon lined side by side and the pair are coupled

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