Review: John Doe and Bill Lloyd – On the road with horses, Atchin Tan, Glastonbury Festival 2023

John Doe refers to himself as a travelling man, living on the road full time. He’s here at the Atchin Tan area of the festival for a fireside conversation about the importance of horses within the Travelling community and his insight and tips on how to look after horses.

‘The animal is the number one thing you must take care of,’ he tells us. Its importance is based on the fact that it is your mode of transport for your home. Doe’s own home sits behind the fire circle – a beautiful open-lot-style wagon with its deep green covering and wooden porch painted with red with yellow traditional Celtic patterns.

It’s an insightful 45 minutes, expertly chaired by Bill Lloyd who keeps a steady hand on the pace of the conversation and the questions from those who have gathered around the circle.

Doe’s minimalist lifestyle seems to appeal to an audience that is largely what Lloyd refers to as ‘Gorja’, or non-Travellers. Doe’s minimalist is a must, not a lifestyle choice – weight needs to be kept to a minimum in a home to make the job easier for the horse who can travel anywhere between 5 and 25 miles a day.

What you come away with is the sense of purpose to Doe’s life with horses and the necessity of the decisions that must be taken on the road. Water is seemingly the main question; a cobb horse, chosen for Britain’s hardy weather, needs ‘watered’ four times a day with a total of five to twenty gallons of water then your route must be able to accommodate that.

If your horse can do a maximum of twenty-five miles a day then you need to be able to stop somewhere before that. Roads must be carefully chosen as although a horse has a right to the road, unlike a car which needs a licence, it is as hard for a horse to go uphill as it is for them to go downhill, so your route must be considered.

It is an eye-opener into the everyday decisions that go into a life on the road and it is the best of Glastonbury; cultures coming together to understand their different ways of life.

John Doe and Bill Lloyd – On the road with horses is at Glastonbury Festival 2023