Horse Thatch­ing

VIZ - - Out in the Country -

Drive past any field, pas­ture or sta­ble yard these days and you will see horses pro­tected from the el­e­ments un­der brightly coloured can­vas blan­kets. It’s a sight that brings tears to the eyes of all true coun­try­men, be­cause not so long ago the HORSE THATCHER was a vi­tal cog in every ru­ral com­mu­nity.

This crafts­man would spend every sum­mer col­lect­ing reeds from the lo­cal pond. As the warmth of sum­mer gave way to the chill winds of au­tumn, he would be­gin the task of thatch­ing every horse in the vil­lage, giv­ing each a thick, nat­u­rally in­su­lat­ing coat that would last un­til the icy blasts of winter gave way to the wel­come, warm breezes of spring. Al­though many thatched horses would catch fire, we true coun­try folk un­der­stood that this was a small price to pay for liv­ing in har­mony with our nat­u­ral sur­round­ings.

To­day, only three tra­di­tional horse thatch­ers still prac­tise this an­cient craft, mainly for demon­stra­tion pur­poses at coun­try fairs and agri­cul­tural shows. Per­form­ing like danc­ing bears in front of a crowd of dis­in­ter­ested town­ies is an ig­no­min­ious end to a once proud rus­tic tra­di­tion.

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