Heavy horses pack a punch near Attleborough

Gentle giants of the horse world worked in harmony with their human masters yesterday for an event aimed at preserving a rural pastime.

Gentle giants of the horse world worked in harmony with their human masters on Sunday for an event aimed at preserving a rural pastime.

Owners from across the region descended on a farm near Attleborough for the seventh Eastern Counties Heavy Horse Association ploughing championships.

About 20 horses, including rare breeds such as the Suffolk Punch, Shire and Clydesdale, took part in a ploughing match and working displays, and were shown in the grand ring at the annual event.

Dozens of visitors failed to let the wet weather deter them from seeing the heavy horses at Old Hall Farm, near Attleborough. And organisers said the recent rainfall had made the soil 'sticky' for their annual ploughing match, but the conditions were much more favourable than last year's bone dry ground.

Neil Syrett, chairman of the Eastern Counties Heavy Horse Association, said it was important to carry on the centuries-old tradition even though his tractor could do the work of 28 horses in one day.

'If we stopped, people would not know how to do it in 50 years' time and if they wanted to try it, they would have to rely on pictures, which is very difficult.' Mr Syrett added that it was difficult to get young people involved in the expensive and time-consuming pastime.

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He said: 'There are people that want to do it, but there are not that many opportunities for it. It is good to plough on the odd day with horses, but day in day out it is not so much fun!'