The art of measuring

Cyril Yearbury at his Cambridge property. Photos: Catherine Fry.

New Zealand Royal Agricultural Society stalwart Cyril Yearbury grew up with dairy farming, but he had showed horses and show jumped as a child.

He’s also had a long association with the society, receiving a life membership of the Mid Northern Area with his late wife Anne, and the couple’s children have followed his interest in horses. Late daughter Sue achieved considerable success in showing.

He’s been a founder riding member, committee member, judge, and now a Patron of the Cambridge Pony Club and the Cambridge A&P Society. He was the driving force behind establishing the North Island Pony Club Show Jumping Championships.

But when Mid Northern area district measurer, Ken Peake, retired in the 1970s it was the role of horse measurer that Cyril stepped into for the next 40 years.

Horse measurers use a Metcalfe measuring machine, with days organised several times a year at venues around the region for horses to be measured.

“All horses that are to compete in the NZ A&P shows need to be measured and issued with a certificate of height to establish which classes they may enter,” says Cyril.

He reckons the secret to accurate measurement is knowing when a horse is relaxed, finding the knob on the withers, and measuring to that with the machine.

“The horse has to stand square and relaxed. Sometimes they need calming, but that is down to horse-handling experience – and I can usually win a horse over.”

Cyril says measurers know every trick in the book owners to use to cheat the system. In his role as national convenor of measuring for the NZ RAS during the 1990s-2000s, Cyril travelled the country settling height disputes between owners and measurers.

All horses need an annual certificate of height until eight years old, when they’re given a certificate for life.

With measuring machines in Te Aroha, Hamilton, Te Puke, Rotorua and Taupo, the Mid Northern Area has half a dozen measurers.

Cyril has “retired” from what he describes as his “hobby”, but still acts in an advisory role and a back-up measurer.

He’s thoroughly enjoyed supplying this service to the equestrian sport for more than four decades.

“I’ve watched many different horses and riders rise up through the ranks and it’s so rewarding watching their development from season to season.”

When not involved in horse-related activities, Cyril can be found working on his Cambridge farm.


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