Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Endangered Horses Get Chance of Survival

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Endangered Horses Get Chance of Survival

Article excerpt

Byline: Graeme Whitfield

THE future of one of the stars of Northumberland County Show has been assured thanks to a sponsorship deal. There have been fears that heavy horses - and the Clydesdale breed in particular - used in the past for brewery and other delivery drays were dying out.

Last year there were fewer than 300 Clydesdale breeding mares and there is dwindling demand for their unique abilities. They are now classed as an endangered species in the UK.

But now a sponsorship deal with Co-operative Funeralcare has offered a glimmer of hope.

The company is supporting County Durham-based Gawin Holmes Heavy Horses, one of the regular exhibitors of heavy horses at the county show.

Managing director David Hendry said: "We're delighted to be supporting such a magnificent team.

"Being an exhibitor at county shows ourselves, it seemed appropriate that The Co-operative Funeralcare should become involved.

As a funeral director, arranging a number of horse-drawn hearses at funerals, we have a particular affinity with these beautiful animals." Gawin Holmes has been keeping and breeding Clydesdale and Shire horses for more than 19 years on his farm in Beamish. His team is made up of Thomas and William, who are seven years old, Clyde, a 10-year-old Clydesdale and George, 17, a Shire.

The team made its first appearance of the season at the Newark and Notts show this month, being placed in every event they entered.

This year's County Show has attracted healthy entries to the singles, pairs and teams classes in the heavy horse section, while there are also heavy horse in-hand classes.

Mr Holmes said: "Co-operative Funeralcare is supporting us with our running costs and that's crucial.

Keeping the breed in the public eye is so important if we want to keep the Clydesdales in existence.

"We're ready for the county show and really looking forward to it. …

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