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.