Our Lives – 24 August 2021 – 24/8/2021 – Tuesday – BBC

The City of Horses
Series 5

An intimate observational documentary film following members of the horse communities in Swansea, south Wales.

Overlooking the city centre are the old housing estates of Mayhill, Townhill and Penlan. Horses have roamed these streets for as long as anyone can remember. It’s thought it goes back to when workers in the copper and mining industries moved to the city with their animals. Even a decade ago there were still over 600 horses living in Swansea, but now those who keep them in the city are a dying breed.

Traditionally, people tied up, or tethered, their horses close to their homes, but now the local council is cracking down on this. Gary Martin, or Tracker as he’s known around Swansea, keeps his pride and joy, a Welsh cob named Bronco, on his yard in the heart of the Mayhill estate. Horses are in Tracker’s blood, and he has kept them since he was a child. There’s one thing that binds the Swansea horse communities together above everything else – the drives. Coming together to drive horses and carts is an event used to mark every occasion, from births to deaths, and when it comes to organising a drive, Tracker’s your man.

Just north of Mayhill is Penlan, home to mother and daughter Sharon and Ciera Janes. At her stables on the outskirts of the city, Ciera keeps her trusty steed Monty. With the help of her best friend Sherrie she is working hard to get Monty in fine fettle ready for one of the biggest drives of the year. Like many on the Penlan estate, 20-year-old bricklayer Billy, or Billy the Brick, has grown up surrounded by horses. However, where once Billy and his mates would have spent their days roaming the streets on horseback, now he’s one of the few youngsters still riding. The clampdown on tethering horses on council land around the estates has left the likes of Billy having to go further afield to keep their horses, and he fears they are being pushed out of the city.

Springtime in Swansea means the start of the driving season for the horse communities, and Tracker is leading the first big drive of the year right through the heart of the city. Joining the drive are people and horses from across Swansea and beyond. Ciera and Sherrie have turned out with Monty, and Billy the Brick is raring to go too.

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