Local Family Taking Carlisle By The Reins

It’s an unusual sight, to see a Carlisle family taking their horse and cart out for a drive, but while Jade might be getting a few double takes, she’s fitting into the town just nicely.

Sean Taylor, his partner Nerys Mitchell and their two sons,  Sean (little) 7, and Riley 5, are becoming quite well known in the town for their drives with Jade, a magnificent, four year old, traditional gypsy cob.

Nerys explained: “The idea of the cart was that it’s something we can do as a family, the four of us out together. It’s nice to get out and take her to Bitts Park or for picnics down by the river.”

Sean, who grew up around horses, bought Jade, a “chilled out, placid cob” for Nerys as a birthday present. Now she is firmly part of the family.

He said: “We’ve had her run off on us before, but I did a lot of reading and research before we went any further. I took her out on my own until I got my confidence and now I can handle her.”

Jade attracts many a smile and wave as she trots past and basks in the attention from onlookers as she waits patiently at the traffic lights. However, there are those who see Jade and immediately accuse them of cruelty.

Nerys said: “It’s a lack of knowledge from other people and I was the same until we got her and I became more educated. She loves it you can tell.”

Sean added: “Look at the shine on her coat and her healthy mane, she’s well looked after, she’s pampered.

“A work horse will enjoy working, they wouldn’t do it otherwise, we’re not forcing her to do anything – but she’ll always go home easier because she knows where the food is.”

Jade my have be the cause of occasional road rage, but for every negative experience, there’s plenty of positives. People ask to stroke her, feed her carrots and even have a go in the cart themselves. Sean’s running joke is that he’s going to apply for a Hackney carriage licence.

He said: “You get a lot of offers to take people –  I’ve been offered £50 – I think we’re missing a trick. But I work away all week, so we’re just keeping it for pleasure for now.”

Running his own business in automation, Sean works in a high-pressure role during the week. His weekends couldn’t be more different.

He explained: “This is the wind-down. I work in the food production industry, so when I’m on a project I have to deliver and it has to be on time. This is the most relaxing thing ever, the sound of the horse’s hooves on the road and the openness of it, it’s great.”

Nerys added: “Because Sean works away it’s really important to have family time the four of us, the kids being in the outdoors, getting mucky, just how kids should be.”

The family, who own Grinsdale Bridge Farm, just outside the city, have six horses all together and the kids are naturals with them. Little Sean is even following in his dad’s footsteps having refurbished his own trap and learning to drive his Shetland, Buttercup.

Recently, Nerys, who worked as domestic violence advisor, gave up her job to follow her dreams of setting up a community farm.

She explained: “The idea was to open it as a community farm, for anyone and everyone to enjoy it. That was my background and kids working with animals, it just coincides with one another.

“The farming side is a learning curve for me, it can be a challenge and it is definitely a labour of love, but I wouldn’t swap it for the world. Even on days when it’s raining it’s worthwhile, seeing the kids that help.”

Grinsdale Bridge has already had a positive impact on the lives and behaviour of a number of young volunteers, who have put their “heart and soul” into helping out on the farm and love being out on the horse and cart. The family will soon move to a new site at Wigton, where they can pursue the venture properly.

Nerys explained: “There won’t be the same restrictions, so it will be really good to see that progress, and one day, even have a little coffee shop on there.”

She added: “It’s just that togetherness that we love, bringing people together.”

In the meantime, don’t be surprised to see Jade parked up at Subway or pulling into a garage in the town centre and be sure to give them a wave as she trots past.


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