Today was a lesson in determination, adventure and letting things happen. I went back to meet up with Daisy and her horses near Coldingham on the Berwickshire coast. I had caught up with her the day before just as she reached the end of a hot hard day on the road, I helped her get the horses unharnessed and left her to rest with a promise to come back with maps the next day.
I met up with them in the afternoon, all much better rested, Olive and Arthur had been in a lovely big field stuffing themselves on some well earned grass, apples and carrots. The support for Daisy and the horses all along the route has been fantastic and Monam was no exception, a local smallholder she turned over her field for as long as needed. It is a great relief to get them in a field, as good as they are in their temporary roadside paddock, Daisy is always worried in case they took fright and barged through the electric tape. A secure field means a restful, worry free sleep for Daisy.
Daisy got her first horse in her 50’s, Sydney a Shire horse with attitude, she went as far as she could with him before realising she might need some advice in the matter of driving and heavy horse handling. Daisy joined the local heavy horse society where she met Jim, he had worked the land with these horses all his life and Daisy started her learning journey. Jim has since gone but his expert knowledge lives on in small part with Daisy, she claims not enough but from what I saw she is too modest.
After a bit of research and a longing to travel she came across a well respected German dealer who had two Belgian Brabents for sale. Compact but powerful with a lovely even temperament just what she wanted “I bought them sight unseen, what was the point of going to see them I didn’t know enough about horses, he (dealer) had a great reputation in the draught horse world so why not!” She may have a point I have seen top level competitions horse go through 5 stage + vettings and still go wrong quite quickly!
So began the first steps to what was to become the trip up North. They started in a lighter gig but soon realised they needed to put their shoulders into a bigger weight so the wooden converted Vardo waggon was born. They are the perfect pair, never a faltered step and an even pull all the way, the half brother and sister make light work of the hills and miles and miles of road they are travelling. To see them work is a privilege and for flight animals, they cope amazingly well with the traffic whizzing past them, unfortunately, in today’s fast paced motorised world there is little time, space or understanding for these magnificent animals, it may take longer but they get there just the same! Ironic really considering before discovering horses Daisy and her husband were involved in motor racing.
We got the pair in from the field to coat them in fly repellant, the horse flies are bad this summer and they were getting swarmed. Olive appreciates the fly ointment but not so much big brave Arthur! Tied up to the side of the wagon in some shade they had their tea squabbling over the last carrot, Arthur may be the bigger by a margin but Olive is definitely the boss of things. Watching Daisy at just over 5ft and 70 something years move these 700kg horses around like they were small ponies and their obvious love for her is quite something. What better way to spend an afternoon, shooting the breeze hearing her tales of travel and swinging off Arthur’s ears as he pretends to be horrified at fly cream!
With an appointment booked with the farrier, Olive has twisted a shoe, they are planning an early start day after next and heading for Berwick. They came up the A68 and some other diversions so Daisy is determined to go a different route home and Berwick is on her wish list. From there who knows, they make plans but they change on a day by day basis but this can change on a whim or if the situation demands it.
If you are passing by Berwick or further on Alnwick please do look out for them, go say hi and drop some money in the bucket. You won’t regret meeting this one of a kind lady and her beautiful horses – oh and Tad, he gives great wiggly hugs in between barks!
Inspired – you should be, if you would like to donate, please visit her Just Giving page or text ‘SYDS73’ followed by the donation amount to 70070 e.g SYDS73 £5.