Harrex family still pony club stalwarts
Clyde Pony Club held a horse trial last weekend, as a post winter warmup before the annual Springston Trophy teams event to be held in Middlemarch in early October.
The cross country phase took place on Sunday at the club’s Waikerikeri Valley Rd course, on the farm property of Earl and Bernie Attfield, generous supporters of the club for many years.
This quintessentially Central Otago landscape owes its rustic, jumpable obstacles to long-time pony club member Vic Harrex of Alexandra and dedicated helpers over the years, including his youngest son, Wayne Harrex.
Harrex senior’s course-building career started in the late 1960s, when he and wife Rose got their his son Barry a pony at the age of nine. This was in the first decade of the Clyde Pony Club’s establishment. It began in 1962 and celebrated its 50th Jubilee in 2012.
‘‘I had no background in horses at all – except for betting on them,’’ he laughs.
He remembers getting roped-in to do jobs from the first day he stepped onto the old grounds at Fraser Domain at Earnscleugh, and the club has not relinquished its hold on his building talents since.
It wasn’t until the club moved to its present Dunstan Rd location, a former racecourse, that Harrex had the scope to build cross country jumps, in and around the track itself.
By then he had three boys riding and was running a shearing contracting business.
‘‘It was a thing I could do with the boys.’’
Harrex built at least two courses in different locations around Dunstan Rd, including one close to the current airport.
It was when the club hosted the the New Zealand Pony Clubs’ Association premier South Island teams’ three-day event, the Springston Trophy in 1998, that he was given a free rein to create a top-class cross country course at Waikerikeri Valley.
This event involved 48 teams, each with up to six horses and riders, which provided the incentive to build jumps and obstacles that would stand the test of time.
‘‘It rode well and nobody got hurt, which is what every coursebuilder wants.’’
Nearly 16 years on, the course is tweaked every so often, to create different routes and approaches to jumps.
Harrex’s son Wayne, who represented Clyde Pony Club in the Springston Trophy three times and Otago-Southland Area Trials twice, said the aim of cross country was to make obstacles out of materials that a horse would encounter regularly while out on a ride.
Central Otago is the perfect place to scrounge for old sleepers, wooden gates, pipes and rusty mining equipment, which also fitin well with the landscape.
Unique in its varied and rugged terrain, equestrian purpose-built cross country courses like Clyde’s are becoming scarce, with Wakatipu and Wanaka - Hawea pony clubs losing available land to development. Southland now has only three courses, due to dairy conversions taking-up previously available land.
Cromwell Pony Club’s course, established within the local racing club grounds, is lookedafter by Harrex junior and is up to national standards for New Zealand Pony Club.
Hup hup: Adult rider Tracy Haggart of Queenstown, on Rustick Sunset negotiate a rustic cross country fence at Clyde Pony Club’s horse trial cross country on Sunday.
Like father like son: Clyde Pony Club’s cross country course builder Vic Harrex, with his son Wayne Harrex, at Waikerikeri Valley, near Clyde.
Made by Pop: Milly Harrex, 14, on Zac Attack, of Clyde Pony Club, is pictured going through the water jump combination during the cross country phase of a horse trial, held near Clyde on Sunday.