Obituary: Dorothy Dawson; eacher and writer who set up the Davida Horse Show

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Born: 7 February, 1936, in Edinburgh. Died: 10 April, 2012, in Edinburgh, aged 76.

Horses were part of Dorothy Dawson’s world for the vast majority of her life. She learned to ride as a teenager, set up a successful stud with her son, travelled the country reporting on equestrian events and welcomed her last foal only 18 months ago.

For many years her equine interests also ran in tandem with her job as a primary teacher, illustrating as much her verve as the depth of passion she felt for the animals.

It was an interest that may well have stemmed from her grandfather’s working life as a coachman in Edinburgh. Her own father Alfred Downie ran a cycle and motorbike shop in the capital while her mother Mary worked in Edinburgh department store Jenners.

Raised in Corstorphine, the young Dorothy attended Mary Erskine School and learned to ride at the city’s Spylaw Riding School. She trained as a teacher and qualified at Moray House in the 1950s, acquiring her first horse, a hunter named Miss Moon, in the late 1950s.

By this time she had also met her future husband, Stuart, whom she married in 1962 at St Anne’s Parish Church, Corstorphine.

The couple set up home in Currie where they spent all their married life. It was there that she developed her interest in horse breeding while continuing her teaching career in primary schools across the capital from Broomhouse to Longstone, Clermiston, James Gillespie’s Boys’ School and finally Colinton.

Her first Welsh Section A pony was Welsh Witch, with which she had some success, but the breeding really took off with her next purchase, Waxwing Arrow, in 1987. Along with her son David, she built up their own Davdor stud, acquiring land at East Calder for the venture. Their greatest successes came with home-bred show hunter pony Davdor Alyn, a prizewinner at the Royal International Horse Show, and Davdor Alastair.

Tragically, David, who had survived a brain tumour as a child, only for it to return in adulthood, died in 1996 aged 24.

A few years earlier his mother had started reporting on horse shows and went on to become a well-known and prolific contributor to newspapers and magazines. She also established the annual Davida Horse Show in her son’s memory. It ran for ten years, raising funds for the Brooke Hospital for Animals.

During her writing career she provided reports and photographs for numerous publications including Horse & Hound, Scottish & Northern Equestrian and The Scottish Farmer.

Accompanied by her husband, her weekends for much of the year were spent attending equestrian events, starting with the Royal Northern Agricultural Spring Show in February in Aberdeenshire through to the end of the show season in September.

Her dedication to the job was evident: she would arrive at the show first thing in the morning, stay all day and then ensure that the report of a Saturday event was typed and filed in plenty of time, as often as not before she attended Sunday morning’s church service at St Anne’s, where she and Stuart were elders.

Affectionately known as Dotty by those on the show circuit, she is survived by her husband, with whom she would have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary this summer.

ALISON SHAW