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Quiet achiever Mister Chip retires

Little Mister Chip, Ray Holdaway, and Colleen Constable prepare for Carterton’s Anzac Day procession. PHOTO/CAL ROBERTS

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It wAS another smooth trip for veterans in Wednesday’s Anzac procession in Carterton, with Little Mister Chip’s last turn at pulling the carriage.

Chip is 24 years old – that’s about 72 in horse years.

But he still has the power to pull a 500kg carriage carrying up to six people.

“He’s become a bit of a legend around here,” says Colleen Constable, a former racehorse trainer, who has cared for Chip since he was seven.

Chip was once a racehorse – but he only won one race.

“He was too slow.”

She said the horse was gentle, kind, and hard to startle.

“You’ve got to have a very special temperament for this type of thing.

“As you can imagine, with elderly people stepping on to that carriage, the horse must not move or they’re going to fall flat.”

Mrs Constable said there were other carriage horses who were excellent at what they do, “but not many are as quiet and as good as Mister Chip”.

The horse has been pulling carts for about 15 years.

“He’s not good for much else, but he’s absolutely fantastic at this.”

The procession usually travelled from the Carterton Events Centre, up High St to the war memorial where the carriage will let the old servicemen out.

“And anyone who is watching Chippy will notice the moment the band strikes up, he’s up to attention.

“Absolutely unspooked, to attention – and he can actually march,” Mrs Constable said.

Members of the Surrey With a Fringe on Top Charitable Trust, Eion Clarke and Ray Holdaway, were on site at Spark’s Park in Carterton before Wednesday’s service.

The cart was custom made by Mr Clarke.

He said it took “about 800 hours” to construct and had been used for several engagements since it was completed in 2015, including ferrying Prime Minister John Key through Carterton.

Mr Clarke said the horse seemed to really enjoy showing off.

“He loves it, he’s quite the character.”

Mr Holdaway said Mister Chip had never once pooed on the road during a parade.

“He’s a real gentleman.”

After having taken part in the procession for a fourth time, it was time for the Chip to retire from pulling carts.

He will live out his days in a paddock in Dannevirke, under Mrs Constable’s care, “with plenty of TLC”.

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