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Beach Ponies


 Robert Haig, Bob Haig, Cuddy Haig,  Cuddy Bob.  He was one of these names to someone. To his adoring, pied piper, following of children he was Mr. Haig.  All the Earlsferry and Elie children and the children that came on summer holiday absolutely loved Bob and his donkeys and Shetland ponies. Each day during the two months of summer the donkeys and ponies walked the Earlsferry and Elie beach giving rides to children.


Bob's girl admirers were either, Sweetheart, Darling, Princess or Precious. For the boys  Bob had similar terms of endearment such as, Your Lordship.

Bob had the knack to make each of his young admirers know they were special to him and they loved him in return.


At the beginning of July Bob and his wife arrived with their hand painted caravan, six donkeys and six ponies and stayed till the end of August. Bobs favourite place to park his caravan and pasture the donkeys and ponies was in the quarry at the top of the Ferry Road. When not on the beach the donkeys and ponies were pastured in the lush grass that grew around the quarry.  Each day eight of the twelve were selected to go to the beach. The other four remained in the pasture. Sometimes there were baby foals and these tagged along with their mothers


About eight o'clock every morning there was a regular procession to the quarry of children who all wanted to help get the ponies spruced up and ready for the beach.  Bob brought with him lots of grooming tools and he showed all the children just how to do the brushing, grooming and the getting on of the reins, saddle and harness. Part of the morning chores also was the polishing of all the bells and brassware that adorned the harness.


Finally, about ten O'clock, when all was ready, two rows were formed and a boy or a girl got to lead each animal.  With Bob in the lead the tinkling procession walked from the quarry, down the Ferry Road, along the High Street to end up on the beach at the breakwater.


Bob had a loud voice and he was a very good and jovial vendor. He had a laugh and a smile and a saying of the day for everyone.  At two pennies a ride Bob had eight children saddled up in no time. The walk along the beach was about a hundred yards to the turnaround point to come back to the starting place. A child also walked along the beach with each donkey and pony to lead it. With all the bells jingling on the donkeys  and the laughter and squeals of delight from the children it made for a happy time.


After about an hour Bob moved the donkeys and ponies further along the beach to accommodate another group of children, then moved further along the beach to end up at the Earlsferry cockstail rocks to give rides to the children at the Earlsferry end of the beach. At about one o'clock the procession wound its way back to the quarry where the saddles, reins and harness were removed. The process was repeated in the afternoon. At the end of the day the donkeys and ponies returned to their pasture at the Quarry. 


Finally came the year, as Bob got older, that he could no longer come.  His absence was greatly missed. However, he and the ponies are not forgotten. Near the breakwater at their starting place for the day a bronze plaque has been attached to the wall in their memory.



Bob Haig




After Bob: Bob's son; also Bob, brought the ponies to the Elie beach. Their last year for coming was 1987. In 1988 when the ponies no longer came there were many sad and inconsolable children in the village. 



Rachel Cowan, ardent equestrian