Yesterday Karen and Olivia arrived after five months riding across Europe, from Italy to England.
The pair arrived at the Uffington White Horse in time for a special tour of the four thousand-year old monument. We'd like to thank Andy, the National Trust warden, for letting us ride off the bridleway and for telling us all about the history, geology and myth associated with this fantastic location.
We rode to a viewpoint that afforded a splendid panorama including the White Horse and the Dragon Hill.
The Uffington White Horse is one of the oldest and best known representations of a horse that has survived from antiquity. Unusually it depicts an athletic horse in motion. Some have suggested that the image represents Epona, for the Celts both rode and venerated horses.
Brena was there too, of course, and it was a long-anticipated pleasure to take her onto the normally out-of-bounds turf surrounding the White Horse. We climbed atop the Dragon Hill too - the very place where, legend tells, Saint George slew the dragon. It felt as if we'd reached the very centre of England's soul.
No grass grows on the bare spot of chalk in front of Brena. It's where the dragon's blood was spilled - a detail of myth that Tolkien made use of.
But enough of antique conflict. Mother and daughter made it across Europe together as friends. More than that, three horses came a long way, gaining condition and looking great - notwithstanding two having been bought from an Italian butcher who was fattening them for slaughter aged four and five.
Now Journey Europe is over. The event has drawn attention to the over-breeding of horses in Europe, which leads to two hundred thousand 'unwanted' and 'valueless' horses being slaughtered annually. The ride has been a success in terms of getting to the end safely and also reaching the media, particularly in continental Europe. However more exposure of the issues is needed. More people need to talk, question and act. I hope that Journey Europe will prove a catalyst for change.