Working heavy horse brings piece of village history to life

Volga ploughing, an image similar to the one on the Sompting village sign
Volga ploughing, an image similar to the one on the Sompting village sign

Sompting is home to a minor celebrity in the horse world.

Volga des Rajouiets is a seven-year-old Comtois that loves attention and even has a Facebook page. The chestnut beauty, owned by Roy and Elizabeth Greenfield from Goring, is the only working heavy horse in the area.

The Sompting village sign. Picture: Derek Martin DM1711503a

The Sompting village sign. Picture: Derek Martin DM1711503a

The couple regularly take Volga to heavy horse shows and ploughing matches, so it seems appropriate that home is Sompting Paddocks, the site of the first major agricultural show in 1936, forerunner of the South of England Show.

Roy, 46, and Elizabeth, 41, have owned Volga for four years. They bought her from France without any real experience of horses or riding.

Their dream of having a working heavy horse has come true and they have even now been asked to breed Volga.

“That is what we always wanted to achieve,” said Elizabeth.

Roy and Elizabeth Greenfield with their working heavy horse Volga des Rajouiets and Bob the pony, which they bought as a companion

Roy and Elizabeth Greenfield with their working heavy horse Volga des Rajouiets and Bob the pony, which they bought as a companion

Roy said it had not all been easy and they had an early setback due to poor advice from a farrier but their ploughing had gone from strength to strength and now people are seeking Volga out when they go to shows, especially when pulling their 19th century fish trolley, the only working model of its kind, or a large farm wagon.

Volga arrived at Sompting Paddocks in December 2012 and began ploughing in 2015 as part of a pair.

Heavy horses are part of the history of Sompting but there has not been a working one on the Sompting Estate since before the A27 was built.

Elizabeth said: “Last year, she ploughed on her own and I was struck when I saw the picture how similar to the sign in Sompting the image looked. She obviously isn’t the Grey Shire depicted but the theme is the same.”

Volga pulling the rare 19th century fish trolley

Volga pulling the rare 19th century fish trolley

The couple have now bought a second Comtois, which they keep in Barnham, and they plan to try tandem ploughing at this year’s shows.

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1 – Make our website your homepage

Volga with the Essex farm wagon, originally bought for two horses

Volga with the Essex farm wagon, originally bought for two horses

2 – Like our Facebook pages

3 – Follow us on Twitter

4 – Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

The Herald and Gazette – always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.