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LYDESDALES were once a
common sight in rural
Australia, but these days it is
becoming increasingly rare to see
them at work on the farm or a team
of them pulling a heavily laden trol-
ley on the road.
It is even more unusual to see a
woman as the driver of such a team,
but not at Mil-Lel, where Lynette
Fritsch is steadily but surely making
a name for herself with her
Lowanvale Clydesdale Stud.
She is also developing a reputa-
tion as an excellent trainer of har-
So much so that when it came
time for Coopers Brewery to com-
mission someone to break-in a new
team-of-four, longtime brewery
Clydesdale manager Mike Keogh
decided to ask Lynette to do the job.
"We had to make a decision to put
a new team together," Mike said.
"The previous team was getting-
on in age so 12 months ago I asked
if Lynette would be interested in get-
ting them going.
"So far as I know, no other woman
has broken in a four-horse
Training four geldings that tip the
scales at anywhere from 600 kilo-
grams to 700kg at four years old and
stand 17 hands high at the shoulder
is no easy job.
And with the Coopers Brewery
celebrating 150 years of brewing
this year, the new team also had to
be prepped and ready for a full year
of promotional events and shows --
no easy task for four freshly broken
The task was made harder as usu-
ally one youngster was placed in a
team with older, more experienced
horses, but this could not be done
because the previous team-of-four
had been retired.
Mike said that after Lynette had
the four horses working well and
pulling a sled, they were driven in
teams of two, before being slowly
introduced to being worked as a
team of four.
"At Christmas I picked up the last
two horses, then I had 2.5 months
to get them to the Sydney Royal
Easter Show," he said.
In April, less than three months
after being broken to harness, the
four -- Coopers Jacob, Coopers Max,
Coopers Bill and Coopers Edward --
went on to win the prestigious
supreme champion multiple-horse
business turnout at the show.
It was an amazing success for the
team's first Royal show -- a result
Mike says was testament to Lynette's
thoroughness and ability in break-
ing them in.
The team was placed first in the
single-horse tradesman turnout, sec-
ond in the pair of tradesman turnout
and first in the three-horse (uni-
corn) tradesman turnout.
While Coopers used to own up to
200 horses, these days only Mike's
team of four are contracted to the
Manager of the brewery
Clydesdales for the past 24 years,
Mike says that driving a team-of-
four heavy horses has become a
"I'm the only one left doing pro-
motional work, and deliveries, at
least once a week in Adelaide," he
"The horses are very popular and
the brewery is always getting people
ringing up and asking for appear-
"But teams and team driving is
definitely a dying art."
Mike thanked those behind the
scenes -- his wife Liz Murphy, black-
smith Tim Peel, Wagga Wagga, New
South Wales; harness-maker Mark
Porter, Wagga Wagga, plus farrier
Graham Ferris, Balaklava, and
Lynette's husband Ian the "ultimate
mechanic" -- for their invaluable
He said the backing of the
Coopers family, who own the brew-
ery, was also vital.
"In the 1950s to mid-1960s the
brewery did not use any horses,"
"It was Coopers Brewery chief
executive officer at the time, Bill
Cooper, who wanted to put a team
together again to promote the brew-
ery, which is how I got involved.
"The current chairman and mar-
keting director Glenn Cooper is the
one keen to support the horses
Besides helping Mike, Lynette also
shows her own Clydesdales, and
they plan to compete against each
other at the Royal Adelaide Show in
"There will be no friendships in
the ring," Mike said in jest.
A former Victorian, Lynette said
she only became interested in
Clydesdales after watching the
Carlton United Clydesdale team -- a
long time rival to the Coopers
Clydesdales team -- compete in
"I was brought up with ponies,
and rode at pony club," she said.
"My father, Ian Dorrington, used
to drive a pony to school and my
mum, Elaine, also used to ride a
horse to school and compete in
But it was not until 1990 that she
bought her first Clydesdale.
"I'm only just getting into driving
a team-of-four," she said.
"I own two horses and another
friend, Chris and Leigh Sutherland,
also own a pair that we plan to com-
bine and compete as a team of four
at the Adelaide Royal."
Three of the four horses were bro-
ken-in by Lynette, and she is confi-
dent of doing well at the Adelaide
Clydies back on the road
Coopers Brewery Clydesdale manager Mike Keogh is an expert when it comes
to driving a four-in-hand. He is pictured here with Coopers Jacob, a 17-hand
gelding he says has the potential to be a star in the showring.
with MIRANDA KENNY
TEAM driving is a dying art in Australia, but not if
expert horseman Mike Keogh and his offsider Lynette
Fritsch have anything to do with it. The two, and their
partners, have become well-known in the heavy harness
scene for their well-performed Clydesdale teams-of-
four. Smartfarmer's MIRANDA KENNY finds out more.
KAPUNDA Kym Mosey 0407 618 678 KEITH Argi Services 8755 1306 MT GAMBIER Dale and Adam Price 0428 394 300 MURRAY BRIDGE David Miegel 0439 853 252 NARACOORTE DWS 8762 1733
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