Horses at Work event

The Horseboating Society joined the Boat Museum Society and the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port to put on the first Horses at Work event there.

Bonny the Boathorse was pleased to be back in harness for two demonstrations on the day – a harnessing demo followed by the short pull to the winding hole and back to the museum.

Bonny has done little boating since 2008 due to having two foals. With a third foal due in August, the short journey was just right “to keep her hand (hoof) in”. The third foal will be Bonny’s last foal, so she will return to horseboating more fully in 2011. The photos show Bonny’s rotund appearance as she proudly carries her foal. Nothing like getting her foals started early – horseboating while in the womb!

Note the period clothing worn with crew of Gifford. The boat was built in 1926 so Victorian clothing is inappropriate. Women wore a floral dress and a pinny.

Other work horses in attendance were a grey Shire mare with a dray of full sacks ready for unloading to a warehouse or boat, and a cob with a bread van . In addition there were horses and ponies from the Parkgate Horse Rescue Centre, reminding people that horses require much love, care and attention.

The event brought in visitors who came especially to see horses at work and to learn about the activity of horseboating, now so seldom seen. A coach party came from the North Counties Heavy Horse Society. Those able to walk the distance followed the horse-drawn boat to the winding hole and back. A great many photos were taken.

The General Manager of the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port is interested in repeating a similar type of event in the future. The HBS received the following thanks from organiser, Ken Catford, who is an HBS member and former BMS chairman.

“Thank you very much for participating in the Horses at Work event. We were very pleased with the day, with a good number of visitors over and above a normal Sunday. I think it met the objective of illustrating the importance of horses in the history of the canals, the docks and the local community.”

Demonstrating traditional boathorse harnessing. Photo: Ken Catford

Demonstrating horseboating – Bonny sets off with Gifford. Photo: Ken Catford

Bonny the boathorse takes Gifford along the canal. Photo: Ken Catford

Period clothing for 1926. Bonny due to foal in August.. Photo: Ken Catford
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