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After the death of their draft horses in a fire in Guemps, a dream to rebuild

Benjamin Lemaire stops talking, shaken by sobs. He puts his hand over his eyes to hide his tears. It’s a kid’s dream which flew away on Thursday, in a terrible fire, carrying two companions very dear to his heart and that of his companion Céline.

The latter was in their house in the rue des Jonquilles, in Guempsbedridden by a winter virus, when the tragedy has occurredaround 9:30 a.m.

“The neighbors knocked on the door to say that there was a fire”, she says this Friday morning.

This one declared itself in a tin shed located behind their house.

In this large hangar, there were two large boxes where two exceptional horses of the Trait du Nord breed.

Two horses and a goat died of asphyxiation

But the alert was given too late. “When I arrived, Bonbon was on the ground, he had managed to get out of his box and was in front of his girlfriend Dora. I couldn’t go back. I could not do anything “, explains Celine. His voice breaks. “Firefighters said they were asphyxiated. »

The northern draft horses of Benjamin and Céline: Dora on the left and Bonbon on the right.

This Friday, what remains of the thirty-meter-long hangar suggests the violence of the fire
: all the material what was there is charred, part of the roof has collapsed. At the end of the shed, a heap of straw was still smoking.

Having draft horses, a childhood dream come true

We do not know the origin of the fire. “EDF agents came by but they told us that they could not determine the origin of the fire. I had installed a heat lamp because one of our goats had just given birth. »

If this one got out, a another goat who was expecting babies also perished in the fire.

Having draft horses was Benjamin Lemaire’s dreamemployee at the DIR, who grew up in an HLM building in Nortkerque.

“I have always been attracted by the agricultural environment, I wanted to become a farmer but when you are not from the environment, it is complicated”, he confesses this Friday, between two sobs. This passion for the agricultural world had become a passion for draft horses.

“It was my dream to have one, I had realized it. » Two years ago, with Céline, they found Bonbon in Avesnois.

“He was my first horse and he taught me everything. He obeyed my voice”

Benjamin Lemaire

“I was a novice, I wanted a horse that knew how to work. He was skinny when we bought him. We fixed it. He knew how to do everything: horse-drawn carriage, traction… He was my first horse and he taught me everything, he never did me wrong tricks. He obeyed my voice, he said, overwhelmed with emotion.

An activity that started

The couple began to propose performances with his two horses “horse-drawn carriage rides, picking up fir trees or rubbish”, continues Benjamin, in his kitchen.

That’s why a few months ago they bought Dora, an eight-year-old mare, in foal.

“We wanted to have several. She had been covered by a male who had all the qualities,” explains Benjamin in front of the devastated shed.

Inside, we guess the carcass of the carriages.

If it is the death of their two horses and their goat Pamela breaking their hearts, that’s good the project of a lifetime which went up in smoke. “We had started contacting people to publicize our services. We didn’t miss anything, we were ready to work,” resumes Celine.

In their shed was stored all equipment related to draft horses that they had acquired over the months: “three carriages, hauling harnesses, carriage harnesses, bridles, bits…” Benjamin lists. “We bought a necklace that we received 15 days ago, 600 euros. »

L’renderer came this Friday morning cost 700 euros.

A kitty to rebuild their dream

Dejected, Benjamin and Céline Lemaire still cling to this dream, which they had touched with their finger.

“We’re going to start over. Benjamin breathes. It won’t bring our horses back but…”

To redo a shed, buy horses and equipment, they call for goodwill and have launched a kitty on the Leetchi platform (Rebuilding Our Dream by Benjamin Lemaire.)

The Trait du Nord: a traditional horse on the verge of extinction

Bonbon, 11, and Dora, 8, were Trait du Nord horses, a typical breed of Nord-Pas-de-Calaisin the process ofextinction.

more present in the Hainaut basinon the Belgian border, this powerful horse was used in agriculture and industry (mines) in the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century.

“In 2021, there were a total of 73 births. It’s better than in 2020 (67) and 2019 (54) but it’s still not enough. says Léa, project manager at the Trait du Nord horse breeding union.

Today these are “enthusiasts who often have an activity on the side”, like Benjamin and Céline, who perpetuate the breed.

Through its plan to safeguard and promote the Boulonnais and Trait du Nord horse, the Region supports breeders with birth bonuses for example (in the amount of 400 euros, a mating costs around 300 euros.)


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