Conventional problems when dropping and picking up kids at school or kindergarten: congestion by private cars, peak consumption of fossil energy with stop-and-go traffic, air pollution. La Chapelle-Gaceline in Britanny, France, shows another way.
In 2009 Nayak, a tall, friendly draught horse, was set on duty, in order to route children of the nursery school up to school canteen near the city council and to see them out to school. But that was only the beginning. Today Nayak is a famous full-time ‘public service worker’, together with two council workers, he not only transports the children of the school to the canteen, every day since January, 2010, but to the multimedia library or for promenade as well. Further examples of nowadays horse aided tasks are watering of public green areas, cleaning, transport of waste, distribution of the local newsletter etc. For rests during their tours, rings were fixed in several places of the market town to allow the tie of horses. What had begun as an experiment, has led to a long-term engagement.
Source: Jean-Leo Dugast
Since in 2011, when UNESCO inscribed French traditional equitation as intangible cultural heritage, the Britanny Region, driven by the ambition to preserve the Breton cart horse, has become a platform of creative ideas around horse supported community services. Thereby the village of The Chapel Gaceline acts as a center of ideas and initiatives, based on its will to become a true équi-city.
But Chapel Gaceline is not the only French community using natural horse power for mobility and transport tasks. A number of communities have set up horse-drawn services, such as Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives, Maxéville in Meurthe-et-Moselle, Vendargues in Hérault, Thury-Harcourt and others. They have gathered experience in not only how to set up local horse-drawn ‘school-bus service’ but how to handle organisational, security and financial issues as well.
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Author: Therese Grosswiele