2005 project overview
SLL, the Sète Lorient London charity, was established with the primary object of acquiring and donating four Camargue horses to two riding centres for the particular benefit of children with disabilities. The plan was to ride the horses across France, at the horses’ pace, to Brittany where two of the horses were to be given, and then on to England for the donation of the two other horses.
Camargue horses were chosen for their rusticity, endurance, kind nature and good character. The four horses selected from their breeder at Mas Saint Germain in the Camargue were all mares; three of them were just four years old and barely broken in. The other was fourteen. After a training period of 4 weeks, the horses, Nounnat, Numba, Lucie and Dourno, and their riders, with the back-up team, set out on the 3rd of May, 2005.
The founder and president of the charity, Jakki Cunningham, rode all the way; she was accompanied by other riders, a driver with escort vehicle and trailer and at the outset, a farrier.
The ponies received a blessing before setting out from Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on their epic journey; they were welcomed in Sète on the 6th of May. Sète was the final destination of the London Languedoc Sète rally which was organised and run by Jakki’s parents between 1950 and 1975. Arles, in the Camargue, is twinned with Wisbech, near to the horses destination in England. Since the year 1512, horses and riders from the Camargue have gathered for an annual blessing in Arles on the 1st of May.
The journey across France took in many regions and departments, and a variety of scenery and accommodation for the horses and riders. When no suitable overnight lodging was offered or available, the tent and portable fence were utilised. The route was plotted ahead everyday, using tracks wherever possible, but sometimes towns had to be negotiated when unavoidable.
They arrived in Lorient in Brittany on 1 August to a reception before the town hall. The ponies were rested for August at a riding centre near Lorient. On 6 September two ponies, Dourno and Lucie, were ridden over to Plumelec where they were presented to the Bruyères educational centre for children and adults with disabilities, amid great excitement, a reception and a church blessing.
The other two horses continued their journey. The Channel crossing by ferry from St Malo to Portsmouth was made in the trailer. They continued the ride on towards London and St John’s Wood where the ponies stayed four days with the King’s Troop at their stables. A mounted police escort took them to St Marks Church in Primrose Hill for a blessing by the Bishop of London.
On leaving London they continued onwards towards Cambridge and finally up to Norfolk. Nounnat and Numba were handed over to the Magpie Centre, Wallington Hall, near King’s Lynn on 18 October 2005.
An Epic Journey, a Charity, Ponies and a Dream : A wonderful story of generosity and determination: read the article in FrenchEntrée.com