This year my friend and I have hired horses to do the Lauder common ride which is taking place this Saturday. In order to give you a bit of an idea of what common riding is, in this first part I will give you some background as to what it is and who is involved and the second part – which will come next week – I will share my experience of common riding this year.
Common Riding Part 1 : It’s aye bin
(Translation: It’s always been)
In the Scottish Boarders common ridings are annual events that take place in various towns throughout the summer, with the first ride at the start of May and the final ride in September in the capital city of Edinburgh. It commemorates the time in history were the local men rode the boundaries to protect the land and town people.
The town principles lead the rides, originally the principles were appointment by the local lord to then ride the clan’s boundaries but these days the principals are either elected by the town’s folk or nominated by an ex principal. They have various names for the different towns, for example in Galashiels the principles are the “braw lad and lass” and in Musselburgh they have the “honest lad and lass”.
Most of the time there are different days for the children’s or beginners ride outs and the adult/more capable riders ride outs, in fact often the entire week is taken up with different types of ride outs or parades. Lauder even has a “Nicht Afore the Morn Concert” (I’m sure you can work out what that means) on the Friday night.
Riders can select which ride they wish to join as anyone is allow to join, if riders are looking for fast and furious they might go to rides such as Duns or Kelso, and others maybe looking for more steady ride, such as Keslo Monday or Melrose.
Most tend to have a big gallop at some point along the route giving the horses a good blast up the fields therefore riders do need to be capable enough in the saddle to cope with the fast paces. The ride outs are a lot of fun and are great to watch, especially the gallop!
Local equestrian centres hire out their horses for these events in fact the some horses are purely for common riding and are put out to the fields at the end of September and brought back into work around April time so that they can be hired for the rides. A lot of people don’t take their own horses as hiring, although expensive, does take a lot of pressure off you. In fact I know of some people who only ride in common ride season and barely go near horses for the rest of the year! When hiring you collect your fully plaited up horse at the collection point and at the end of the day you drop the horse off again!
Plus it is quite good knowing you are on a horse that knows their job!
The riders wear traditional smart clothing such as tweed jackets, beige breaches and black long boots. Therefore I will be pulling out my tweed jacket that I last wore at a showing show.
The common ride we are doing, Lauder, takes about five hours to complete but that is including a stop at the waterin’ stane (Translation: Watering Stone) that is at the half way point.
I am really looking forward to it, I have done one a few years ago, which was in fact on Eva before I owned her!
Watch out for part two and find out how we got on at Lauder common ride!