Boxing Day Clydesdale Races in New Zealand

Because there aren’t enough obscure disciplines out there already.

This Friday the Pirongia Boxing Day Races in New Zealand joined the craze that’s sweeping the world…Clydesdale racing! (Not to be confused with the human version of ‘Clydesdale’ racing.)

The Pirongia Boxing Day races have taken place at the Pirongia Golf Club since 1866, but to mark the 150-Year Waipa Celebrations, Pirongia Clydesdales brought their team to show off their flying feathers.

First place went to Grady and rider Barney Tuka, and second place to Pirongia’sĀ Glencaron Kintyre Classic and rider Shelley Thompson. These Clydesdales’ day job is normally doing weddings and carriage rides, but Pirongia Clydesdales hopes to make the race an annual event!

They’re following in the (very large) hoofsteps of draft horse races which have recently become popular in England. The Flying Feathers Maiden Stakes began in 2013 to raise awareness of Shires, which are currently an endangered breed due to the lack of broodmares. Clydesdales face a similar plight, and Adventure Clydesdales of Devon, England has provided horses for a similar race to raise awareness for the past two years.

As you might imagine, Clydesdales are even rarer in New Zealand than they are in England. The Clydesdale Horse Society of New Zealand estimates that there are just 550 registered Clydesdales in the country. Hopefully events like these will show the world that drafts can do more than pull a plow!

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