Royal Seal of Approval for the History of Pirongia
Pirongia couple Nick and Jill van der Sande pictured in 2017 when they owned and operated Pirongia Clydesdales. Photo / Dean Taylor
In 2017, Te Awamutu Courier signaled “the end of an era” when Pirongia Clydesdales owners Nick and Jill van der Sande announced they were slowing down after three decades of working with Clydesdales.
As we were finishing up our Late Era story, we reported that Nick was writing a book about their Clydesdale history, offering a real insight into some of New Zealand’s recent history.
In November, we were pleased to announce that the family released the fruit of their efforts – Behind the Reins: The Story of the DB Clydesdales and a Kiwi Family – and now the book has the royal seal of approval.
The van der Sandes smiled from ear to ear after receiving a letter from Windsor Castle last week informing them that the Queen had received a copy of their book and was looking forward to reading it.
Van der Sandes freed behind the reins in November after almost a decade of planning and with a collection of stories and photographs from their time with the horses.
It weaves together a selection of anecdotes from a career managing the famous DB Clydesdale horses; from accounts of events to studies of animal and human characters, stories stimulate feelings of awe, sadness, humor and great happiness.
Since the launch, the couple have been “blown away” by book sales and national and international interest.
This led to British contacts suggesting the book would be of interest to Her Majesty, who has a lifelong love and association with all types of horses.
As a result, the van der Sandes forwarded a copy of their book and were surprised to receive such a prompt and positive response expressing Her Majesty’s delight.
The pair were thrust into the limelight in the mid-1980s when DB Breweries founded the famous DB Clydesdale team – with Nick van der Sande at the helm.
That era ended ‘rather abruptly’ around 25 years ago, but the van der Sandes established their business Pirongia Clydesdales and welcomed people to the property or took teams to events over the next 15 years. .
We told part of the story of how they met through their equestrian interests, got married and then established an interest in the workhorse that led to a 30 year career – and now this story is available in its entirety.
For more information or to order your book, visit www.theclydesdalebook.co.nz.