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  • Norfolk Farms

A Love Affair With Horses

It’s obvious from watching their interaction that the relationship between

Darryl and Shelley Hagan surrounded by some of their Clydesdales.

Both Darryl and Shelley grew up on dairy farms where they learned to appreciate and care for their charges. Darryl stated that, “Animal husbandry never gets out of your system.” His dad showed Clydesdales and Darryl developed a long-time love for the big horses. The Hagans have five of the mighty draft horses and compete at a number of shows each year. Their first Clyde, Thomas, arrived in 2011 and had the job of delivering Shelley to the church for their wedding that year, and of transporting bride and groom away after the festivities.

Shelley Hagan interacting with one of her mules.

Thomas was the beginning of their involvement, leading to showing first in cart classes, then to teams, four in hand hitches, unicorn and tandem hitches. Shelley considers tandem to be the most challenging to drive – so that’s her favourite. She credits her smallest horse Fire (not really a small horse, just the smallest of her Clydesdales) for good results in this class.

Highlights from their show career with the Clydes include attendance at and ribbons from the World Shows in London 2015 and Madison Wisconsin in 2018. This year’s debut show will be on Civic holiday weekend, with more appearances to follow at various fall fairs. As to the future, Darryl says they may not keep going much longer, as the horses are getting older.

Shelley doesn’t just work with Clydesdales – she is also involved in Cowhorse events, which include Cutting, Reining, Roping and Fencework. Her three year old Quarter Horse Marty has been in training for Reining, and debuted at his first competition recently.

Six years ago Shelley took on a new challenge. Someone offered her a pair of mules, which she enjoys using for trail rides. These animals are surefooted and more sensible than horses.

Three handsome Clydesdales respond at a brisk trot to a call from Shelley Hagan.

“You talk to a mule,” Shelley stated, “They understand.” Mules think totally differently from horses – they’re not stubborn – they’re smart. Shelley mentioned that mules have different feeding needs than horses. They only require about 4% protein, while a horse needs 12%.

Darryl mentioned, “There are many amazing and innovative farms featured in this paper (Norfolk Farms),” and that he felt humbled to be included. He added that, “The equine business is a fairly large economy booster in most areas of Ontario and Canada from the many recreation disciplines to the racing industry. They generate millions in the economy.” 

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