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Crowds turn out to see Devizes shire horses start their holiday
Hundreds of people made the annual pilgrimage to Poulshot, near Devizes, on Friday to see Wadworth’s shire horses kick up their heels as they began their two-week annual break.
For 50 weeks a year, the three horses - Prince, Monty and Max - dutifully haul the drays delivering beer to pubs and hotels in the Devizes area. But each August they are taken to the field in Poulshot, owned by former Wadworth chairman Major John Bartholomew, to enjoy romping in the open air and cropping the grass.
It has become a tradition for them to stop off at the Raven Inn in the village and down a pint of Wadworth’s star ale, 6X, before they are walked down the road and released into the field.
Among those who made the journey to see them off on their holiday was eight-year-old Alfie Waker, a big fan of the huge horses, who undertook a 35-mile cycle ride in May to raise money for the charity Horseworld, where a former Wadworth shire, Tom, was being taken care of.
The ride raised £1,000 but Alfie hasn’t left it there and announced on Friday that he has raised £2,000 so far.
He told the Gazette: “I’m doing the ride again next year. The horses are awesome but at the same time they are kind and gentle.”
The licensees of the Raven, Jerry and Nathalie Edwards, made a weekend of it with many events taking place. A beer festival ran in a marquee outside the pub and there was live entertainment on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, starting with music from Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats on Friday, a Caribbean night on Saturday and some laid-back jazz on Sunday.
Mr Edwards, manning the barbecue, said: “This is the fourth year we’ve done this and usually it is very successful. Last year we got clobbered by the Olympics. The Saturday coincided with Super Saturday with gold medals for Mo Farah, Jess Ennis and Greg Rutherford.”
Devizes’ own Fantasy Radio covered the event on Friday and for one of the team, Lesley Scholes, it brought back happy memories. She said: “My folks used to run the Raven and when I ran the Waggon and Horses (in Beckhampton) the horses came along to my wedding.
“It was lovely to have them there but when I wasn’t looking they ate my bridal bouquet.”
The horses were on their best behaviour on Friday, showing off to all their fans. They took a break to drink at the trough in the field before romping down to greet the crowds at the fences on either side of the field.
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