Drynan's Compete With The Best

By Pat Clark

Appleton - Keith and Joy Drynan of Appleton were successful in the World Percheron Congress held recently at the Calgary Stampede. They were part of a group of entrants from the Ontario Percheron Club.

The Drynans, who own six Percheron horses travelled to Calgary by means of a 45 foot tractor trailer supplied at a discount rate by a member of the Percheron Club. The family packed the trailer with 82 bales of hay and 40 bales of straw, 10 bags of grain, their show wagons, the six horses and the harness for a six horse hitch. Mr. and Mrs. Drynan, their son Gordie and Joy's mother Mary McDonald travelled in a motor home for the 56 hour trip.

The Drynans had heard of the competition in February but didn't know if their entries were accepted until two week before they left. This was the first World Percheron Congress to be held in North America. The entries were from all over Canada and the United States with spectators from France, Australia and Britain. 350 horses competed in the congress which was held in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede.

The Drynans left Appleton on June 30 and arrived in Thunder Bay 24 hours later. They stopped frequently along the road to give the horses a break. In Thunder Bay the Ontario Percheron Club had arranged for them to use the stock yards to exercise and feed their horses. There they met Reg Black from Moorefield and along with Brian Kemp from Carp they proceeded on to Calgary.

The trip was very rewarding for Keith and Joy Drynan, of the 12 different classes they competed in they rarely received lower than fifth place.

They placed third in the Heavy Draught Percheron Team, the Ladies' Percheron Cart Class; fourth in the Light Draught Percheron Team; the Single Percheron Tandem Class, the Junior Percheron Driving Competition and in both the Light and Heavy Draught Gelding, four and over.

They took fifth place in the Percheron Unicorn Hitch (3 horse hitched), the Percheron Four Horse Hitch, the Junior Percheron Driving Competition and the Six Horse Driving Competition. They received sixth in the six horse hitch.

There was an average of 19 entries in each class with some very "high brow" entrants from the United States. The Walt Disney World Co., had an entry as well as some wealthy horse owners.

Mrs. Drynan said that the money didn't matter, it was the quality of the team that counted.

Mr. and Mrs. Drynan managed to win enough in prize money to help pay for their trip. They felt it was a rewarding experience and would like to go again.

Showing horses is nothing new to the Drynans. Since their marriage in 1961 the two have cared for and showed all types of heavy horses. Mrs. Drynan feels that the Percherons are a smarter breed of horse and therefore easier to train and care for.

Actually raising and showing horses is a hobby which is "more like a full time job." The entire family spends time feeding the horses, cleaning the stables, cleaning the harness and decorating the wagons and horses for the show. Their two boys, John and Gordie leave the artistic work of sign painting to sister Beverly, who paints the horses' nameplates and the sign on the wagon.

John, the oldest has used his horse experience to land a job working with the Carlsberg Horses at Ontario Place. He is now involved with their care and feeding, but would like to drive the Carlsberg wagon and its eight horse team.

The Drynans compete in about 21 shows a year. The season starts in early June and ends with the Royal Winter Fail in Toronto in November. The horses are trained and exercised every night in the spring but with shows every weekend they are usually not hitched up during the week. In the winter the couple offer sleigh rides to keep the horses in shape.

Drynans take Top Prizes at the Royal Winter Fair

A local couple finished off a successful season showing their purebred Percherons by taking top honours in several classes at the Royal Winter Fair this fall.

Joy and Keith Drynan did so well with their beautiful dappled greys in fact, a horse fancier present at the Toronto fair made them an offer they couldn't refuse, and purchased the team for a sum in the five figure bracket.

According to Mrs. Drynan, the RR 3, Almonte couple "had no intentions" of selling the horses when they left for the Royal. However, Mr. Marc Guerin of St. Sebastian, Quebec (near the Vermont border) "wanted them" very much, and convinced the Drynans to sell. "He (Mr. Guerin) had been looking for two years" for a six horse hitch Mrs. Drynan explained, and will be showing them at exhibitions around Montreal and Quebec City.

The striking team of dappled greys will be remembered by horse fanciers around the Valley for their impressive season at local shows. The team also journeyed this summer to the World Percheron Congress held at the Calgary Stampede, where they did very well, Mrs. Drynan said. "We figure we have about 6,000 miles of travelling on those horses this year."

The well matched team was gathered from "all over." According to Mrs. Drynan. One was originally from Alberta, one from Pennsylvania, and others from nearer centers like Lansdowne and Vankleek Hill, Ontario. Although the Drynans have been showing horses for 19 years, this fall was the first time they took a six horse hitch to the Royal.

The Drynan's stable is only temporarily empty, however. Already the horse lovers are "looking again" for six, well-matched dappled grey Percherons so they can "start over again." If all goes according to plan, the Drynans will be back in the show ring come this summer, according to Mrs. Drynan.

Prize money collected by the Almonte area couple at the Royal was nothing to brag about. In fact, "we made more money at the Almonte Fair." Mrs. Drynan said. But the "challenge" of competition "from all over Canada and the United States" was a big thrill.

Prizes included a first in a light draft line class against 17 other horses, first in a two team hitch class of 15, third against eight competitors in the popular six-horse hitch and fifth in a four horse hitch class of 10 entries.

Keith Drynan also carried off top honours in the six horse Percheron driving competition, and third in another driving class which included Belgians and Clydesdales as well.

The Drynan's 15 year old son, Gordon, place sixth out of 22 in the junior showmanship class.

  • ~A’Ioca