Annual horse festival sports new events

The popular horse logging demonstrations feature once again in this year's festival line-up
The popular horse logging demonstrations feature once again in this year's festival line-up

The country’s first horse festival is in a period of transition, say organisers.

The Borders Festival of the Horse – which starts tomorrow (May 16) – was the brainchild of former British Horse Society access officer Ann Fraser, who set up the unique event to help the region recover post Foot and Mouth Disease in 2001.

But this year some sources of funding came to an end, Ann has retired and the local volunteer committee of the British Horse Society are increasingly relying on the goodwill of the event’s loyal supporters and local businesses, said committee member Polly Fraser.

She told The Southern: “We’re in transition and the festival is now run by the committee. We’ve got a really busy programme this year. We are very grateful to everyone who has supported us in the past and who is supporting us in the future.

“We hope everyone enjoys the festival and if anyone has any suggestions for things they would like to see in the future or who would like to volunteer, whether its their time, an interest or skill, we would love to hear from them.”

New events this year include a treasure hunt on horseback and foot from Lochtower Farm, near Yetholm on Monday, an open day with Norwegian Fjord ponies at Mindrum at Cornhill, and Stable Life, a Borders charity which works with horses to help teenagers, is hosting an afternoon with horse behaviourist Alison Rowan.

Tomorrow sees the opening of the festival’s equestrian art exhibition at the Kinsman-Blake Gallery at Smailholm, the start of the three-day Floors Castle Horse Trials ( and Jedburgh troupe, Les Amis D’Onno staging their equestrian cabaret at Lanton Hill Farm in the evening.

In addition to the aforementioned attractions, on Saturday, enthusiasts have the opportunity to see Innerleithen horse loggers Rab and Caitlin Erskine at work with horses Angel and Rhona in Glentress or to take part in the 20k Eildon Endurance Pleasure Ride (also on Sunday, starting at Newtown St Boswells.

Other events over the week include trying carriage driving at Seacliff Stables at North Berwick, a talk by vet Harry McKerchar about his experiences as a Mongol Derby vet, eventing expert David Gatherer’s cross country training over Floors’ course and the annual equine car boot sale at Jed-Forest Rugby Club in the evening.

In addition, two sessions of Four Legged Magic with equine behavioural consultant Alison Rowan take place at Dryden Farm, Ashkirk on Monday afternoon and evening.

There is a vaulting display at Monteviot on Tuesday; a talk by Equitait Vets on strangles and moody mares on Wednesday; Stable Life’s open day, showing and explaining the charity’s work, also on Wednesday from 10am-2pm; a picnic and donkey walk near Heriot; equine reiki at Overwells Farm, Jedburgh; a dressage workshop, a tilting demonstration and international competition at the Haining, Selkirk. Guided rides this year include Stable Life’s ride from Dryden Farm, Ashkirk, the 12-mile Linton Drovers Ride from near West Linton, the Kelso ride from Wooden House, an evening ride starting from Sorbietrees, Newcastleton and a walk and trot ride from Marigold Farm, Duns.

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