Baird family posts wins at World Show, Royal Fair
BY DENNY SCOTT
This article was published as part of The Citizen's 2016 Salute to Agriculture, which can be viewed in its entirety here.
The Baird family from north of Wingham have a lot of reasons to be proud of the fruits of their labours as Baird’s Maitland River Jolie, a Clydesdale born and bred by the family, brought home several impressive accolades.
Jolie won silver in the Senior Yearling class at the World Clydesdale Show in London and top Yearling at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in 2015.
The family, which consists of patriarch Clayton and sons Peter, Russell and Ronald, have been breeding, breaking and showing their own Clydesdales since 2001 when Clayton’s brother Lorne passed away. The farm was kept in the Baird family.
Lorne started breeding the animals years ago for events like Santa Claus parades and homecoming shows, likely inspired, according to Clayton, by the fact that their father Russell had Clydesdales going back as early as the 1940s.
Lorne, however, had no interest in the competitions that have since been a staple of life for the family.
Russell, Clayton and the rest of the family have taken what Lorne and the elder Russell before him started and turned it into something big.
While this year is the best the family has had for accolades, it’s not the first time they’ve earned awards and, they hope, it won’t be the last.
“We’ve been getting good horses and buying good stallions and, for years, we’ve been going to shows and we’re going to keep going,” Clayton said.
“Two years ago, we won the Royal with a stallion, and we’ve been near the top at other shows, but this year has definitely been one of the best,” Russell said.
The family breeds, breaks, shows and sells their stock and attends five shows a year typically. This year, aside from the Royal in Toronto and the World Show in London, they travelled to Barrie, Brampton and several local fairs.
The competitions aren’t easy to figure out, Russell said, adding he understands why his uncle never wanted to get into it.
“Some of the shows are all-breeds together, which makes it tough,” he said. “Some of them are specific breeds, and that has its own challenges.”
The World Clydesdale Show, which isn’t an annual event and was last held in 2011, saw more than 600 head of horses brought to London, including breeders from across Ontario, from eight of the 10 provinces and from as far away as Germany, making for some stiff competition.
Despite the number and calibre of competitors, Jolie came out on top for the Bairds and, if you ask them why that is, the answer comes down to a few simple things: genetics, hope and a lot of work.
Russell explained that you hope, with every foal that’s raised, that you’re going to get a winner with Clayton adding that encouraging the right breeding habits among the horses and putting a good amount of effort in before the show helps. He also said that having a good farrier helps.
“If you have a good guy for that, it goes a long way and we have a good guy for shoeing,” he said. “There is a lot of art that goes into shoeing.”
While some may think that raising, breaking and selling the Clydesdales would be a full-time job, the family also has sheep and beef farms and all have jobs off the farm as well.
Peter is an electrician, Ronald is a plumber, Russell works for the Township of North Huron and Clayton is a perioperative nurse at the Wingham hospital.
The next World Clydesdale Show will be held in Madison, Wisconsin in 2018, and the Bairds are already looking forward to it.