Har­rex fam­ily still pony club stal­warts

Central Otago Mirror - - SPORT -

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.

Photo MARY-JO TO­HILL

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.

Photo MARY-JO TO­HILL

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.

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