Mr Cardigan Petterson, who shod horses for 65 years, is a mobile advertisement for the salubrious Akaroa climate. This patriarch of the anvil, who is much nearer 90 than 80, started nailing shoes on horses’ feet when he was a lad, and he is still in remarkably good health, although his hearing is not the best. He continues to walk everywhere. He has retired from business, but still takes an interest in the equestrian activities of Peninsula folk who brought their ponies, thoroughbreds, trotters, hacks and draughts to his forge at Akaroa for more than 40 years.
Today the game of bowls is his absorbing recreation.
Cardigan Petterson shod horses for three – in odd cases four – generations of Banks Peninsula folk – the families headed by Jas. Dalglish(Sen), H Elliott, George Crotty, A Leonard, J Barker, V Masefield, Charles Moore, Robert Gilbert, Luke Waghorn, John Thacker(Sen), E X Le Lievre and Jules Le Lievre.
Mr Petterson, named after the ship Cardigan Castle, on which he was born when his parents were on their way to NZ from their native land, Sweden, in 1873, started work with his father, J P Petterson, who was a blacksmith and gunsmith on Banks Peninsula for many years. In 1900 Cardigan Petterson set up his own shop at Little Akaloa and, after five years there, he went to Christchurch and started business in Victoria Street in partnership with the late ‘Bernie‘ Fanning. Six years later he shifted to Le Bons Bay, where he engaged in blacksmithing and farming. In 1917 he took over the Akaroa smithy, which had been run for many years by Mr Chas O’Reilly, and he plied his ancient trade there for over 40 years.
Mr Petterson was always a great admirer of ‘Bernie’ Fanning (a famous All Black Rugby lock) and his skill as a farrier. “Between us,” he said, “we once made twelve shoes in under thirteen minutes for a bet. That was at Victoria Street. There were twenty-two blacksmith shops inside the city belt some 50 years ago,” said Mr Petterson. “In those days we used to get 6/- for a set of hack shoes, and 7/- for draughts.”
‘Bernie’ Fanning and ‘Ernie’ Archer were farriers of great skill, according to Mr Petterson. They could shoe any horse, and had few failures, especially with trotters and pacers, which were the most difficult of all horses to plate. Shoeing polo ponies was also a difficult job. Messrs Rutherford and Ellworthy used to bring their ponies to the partners when there was a tournament on in Christchurch.
Bernie and Cardigan were among the first to realise the importance of square toes on trotters, and they made a study of cross-firing preventatives on pacers. They paid particular attention to the hind feet, which still need the most care in both pacers and trotters. “Bernie shod the winner of the NZ Trotting Cup nine times to my knowledge,” said Mr Petterson, “and that in a comparatively short space of time.”
“We were fit young fellows in those days,” he declared when chatting of old times. “Why, half a century ago they used to bring me unbroken horses that had never had a hoof lifted off the ground. I had to do the breaking-in for some of the Peninsula farmers by handling the horses’ feet and straightening them up before shoeing them. I once tackled a farmer about the wild horses he used to send me to shoe, mentioning that these horses had not been trained to lift their feet. His reply was:’You know more about that part of it than I do.’ We had to take a lot of risks with that type of horse,” said Mr Petterson, “but it kept us fit for the football.”
Reta Peter and Peter Bingen, both dual winners of the NZ Trotting Cup, were among the celebrities shod by Mr Peterson. “Reta Peter,” he said, “the only trotter to win the Trotting Cup twice, used to slip when going at speed, and we made special concave plates with a ridge round the toe which gave her grip that increased her speed amazingly.”
Ocean Wave, the dam of Muricata, and grandam of the dual NZ Trotting Cup winner Ahuriri, was another old-time mare who required a lot of study and careful shoeing before she developed her best form. “Her four plates weighed only 11 ounces altogether,” said Mr Petterson. He compared this weight with the weight of a set of shoes for a draught horse – eight pounds for the set in some cases.
Horses with sore heels and quarter cracks presented a real problem – bar shoes to ease the pressure on the cracked heels and put the pressure on the frogs were among the most exacting tasks required of the farrier. The late Mr E X Le Lievre was among the first on the Peninsula to have his trotters and pacers shod as yearlings and 2-year-olds, with excellent results, “as the record books will show,” declares Cardigan.
Credit: ‘Ribbonwood’ writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 28Mar62
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