Hand Forged Gifts & Homeware

Posted on 18th July 2020

A Sheepdog Called Drift

Often when you get started in business, perhaps especially if you are creative, you start because you have a passion, a talent, a desire to create. Learning all the more, sometimes mundane and more practical issues of running one,  ‘on the job’.

One of those learning curves but a very lovely one happened one day in September 2019. And yes, I meant to get around writing it way before now but the other major small business juggle is time!

We were commissioned to make a life size horseshoe collie by our lovely customer Veda who runs an award winning Caravan & Campsite “Witches Craig” in historical Stirling, Scotland. Check it out here

Previous life size commission for a local client based on their own short haired collie “Elsie”.

We have made these before for more local clients so we weren’t phased. We had the measurements of previous collies and investigated courier companies and figured that at those sizes it could still be carried by most couriers up to Scotland without problem and on we pressed with it’s creation.

Veda was very patient as we progressed with her collie while working round general website orders and the usual chaos of family life with an animal menagerie thrown in.

Finally he was complete and the time came to schedule him with the courier and send him to his new home. Only, it wasn’t that simple – you guessed that already didn’t you?!

Oh the perils of using a variable product such as used horseshoes! Our newly created horseshoe dog was a few cm over length! I searched and searched and the only solution seemed to be a pallet delivery. Costing a considerable amount more of £££!

What to do? We couldn’t let the customer down, and also couldn’t pass on the delivery charge to her as really it was our error in it’s building for not keeping an eye on the exact size and just rolling with the creative flow of what horseshoe looked right where!

Barry looked at me and I back at him. “I’ve never been to Scotland.” I said. And so it was decided. However, as is always the way, other family and animal obligations meant that we couldn’t even book just one night away… and so we set of from Hertfordshire to make our way up to Scotland and back, horseshoe collie in tow. In just one day.

We were blessed with relatively clear roads and as we headed up past Manchester the scenery turned to stone walled fields and craggy hills, with a scattering of sheep and cows and our hearts felt full. Without a doubt, felt right in the depth of our tummies, those views are ones that one day we would love to call our own. Our day dreaming of ‘One days’ made the rest of the journey through that stunning countryside no chore at all.

I wouldn’t have ever thought a motorway services would be something of note but Tebay Service Station was just lovely! Serving home cooked, locally sourced food in their cafe it was such a refreshing, welcome change from your standard motorway services. Do check them out here.

We wove our way through Cumbrian hills and eventually into Scotland with more stunning scenery to fuel us on our way.

Dropping off Drift the Collie at Witches Craig Caravan and Camping park surrounded by the scottish hills.

I thought popped into my head. “Where are the Kelpies?” I asked Barry? I had long admired images of these gorgeous sculptures but had no idea where they actually were. “Falkirk.” Barry replied and phone map in hand he told me they were no more than half an hour south east of Stirling. Well, after coming all this way it would be foolish not to! The decision was made for a slight detour on the way home to see them.

We made a very uneventful arrival to Witches Craig Caravan Park. Where the back drop of mountains extending high above the park made our jaws drop. So so beautiful. Hello Scotland.

Breathtaking views! Highland cattle at Witches Craig.

We introduced ourselves to Veda and let the horseshoe dog out of the car where he stretched his legs after the long journey. So well behaved these horseshoe dogs! Veda was thrilled with her purchase (thank goodness!) which was to be a gift to her shepherd husband. After some time chatting, a gaze at her beautiful highland cows and picking up in person a variety of other found horseshoes that Veda asked us to create with it was time to go. A desire to see the Kelpies too meant we didn’t have much time at all to waste.

Again the roads were kind and in no time at all we were looking, awe inspired, upon the two most majestic horse heads, rising up out of the surrounding land. Wow. Just wow! I had long admired them. I’d always loved the sculptures themselves but, being a lover of folklore, the link to the Kelpie fairy tales that I have known of since childhood (I consumed ravenously anything with horsey connections!) made them all the more special.

The Kelpies. Rising from the ground in the distance at Falkirk, Scotland.

We parked up and made it to the information desk just in time to join the last tour. I got quite emotional at this point! I think I had found the whole day quite overwhelming!

The Kelpies are the largest equine sculptures in the world standing at 100ft. Created by sculptor Andy Scott who was inspired by Jim Carruth’s poem and the Clydesdale horses themselves that played such a big part in Scottish industry. Helping the people they all worked so hard on the land and along the canals. They are made from stainless steel and painted mild steel. Mild steel is what most horseshoes are made from these days. Find out more about Andy Scott and his amazing work here.

The tour guide round the Kelpies was just lovely and I have to say I felt so proud as she recited the story of the Kelpies to the visitors and i knew it all inside out. It meant so very much to me to be able to out of the blue visit and see them that day. The Kelpies, were modelled on two special cyldesdales, Duke and Baron. Sadly Baron died at the age of 19 in 2017 and Duke is now retired.

Lying down inside the Kelpie as advised the tour guide to take in the amazing structure and sheer size of the sculpture.

The tour is the only way you can enter in to Duke. The inside is no less inspiring than the outer. We were delighted to find in one of the Clydesdales’ shoes fixed within the sculpture where the tour guide discussed the tradition of brushing your fingers over a used horseshoe for luck. Horseshoe folklore really does weave it’s way through so much over the years and varies according to regions and time periods. One can only really imagine now the great importance that horses and ponies had to people where they were essential to industry and transport for hundreds and hundreds of years. It is such a privilege to be a little part in keeping those traditions going by working with used horseshoes making precious keepsakes and gifts for horse lovers and owners.

Interior of Kelpie “Duke” looking from the ground up.

As the sun began to lower in the September sky we became very aware of our long journey home that was still to be made and bid The Kelpies goodbye. What a short but very sweet taste of Scotland it was!

We were blessed again with a clear roads on the way home though as darkness fell Barry took over the driving. Most often I drive on any long journey as I am the world’s worst for getting car sick as a passenger. Once that happens it leaves me completely incapacitated for the rest of the day hence in self preservation me doing the majority of the driving.

As the sun lowered in the sky we had to say our goodbyes to The Kelpies and Scotland.

From Birmingham to home seemed to take the longest time but finally we were home. Weary and exhausted but feeling blessed and grateful to have spent have such a wonderful day. Meeting some lovely people, seeing the most amazing sights, all caused by an oversight on our part of the creation of a horseshoe collie. Who were were later informed was now called Drift. Pictured in the title image with his very pleased and proud owner in beautiful Stirling, Scotland.

You couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful learning curve!





“Echo the great beasts
that work among us
unbridled in the kingdom
between canal and firth
here to harness the river
carry each weary traveller
Bow down
your strong heads
to taste the water
Stretch up
Your long necks
to face the sun
Mighty twins of Carnera
unbridled in this kingdom
between canal and firth
surface to take the strain
Clydesdales of the Carron
rare wild maned kelpies
come to harness the river
carry each weary traveller
Celebrate their strength
Never forget a debt owed
Echo the great beasts
that work among us
Bow down
your strong heads
to taste the water
Stretch up
your long necks
to face the sun.”
Jim Carruth











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