Horse riding is intrinsically linked to the history and heritage of the area and goes right back to the 13th and 14th centuries where nominated townspeople would ride the clan’s boundaries to protect their common lands from plundering reivers and prevent encroachment from neighbouring landlords. Thankfully our riding pursuits today are not quite so dramatic and tend to be much more relaxed affairs in the saddle enjoying the great outdoors.
Long after they ceased to be essential, the historic ‘ridings’ continued in commemoration of local legend and they carry on to this day through our local ‘Common Ridings’. Each Border town has its own strong traditions but most involve week long festivals running from May through to August. Evoking a passion worthy of the reivers of old, up to 300 riders now take part in a cavalcade of ride-outs, celebrations, events and ceremonies. Visitors to the area will long remember the rousing sight of flag-bearing principal riders and symbolic ceremonies such as the ‘colour bussing’ or the annual tradition of ‘hand ba’’. Experienced riders may even wish to take part in the celebrations and we will cover stables where horses can be hired a little later.
From quiet hacks on forest trails, to open moorland canters or frolicking beach rides, the area has a diverse range of riding options. A good place to start is South of Scotland Countryside Trails (SOSCT) which provides a fantastic insight into where to ride, suggested itineraries, and digitised maps of the complete SOSCT route network, as well as lots of useful tips on land-use and access rights. Covering a staggering 350km of tracks, there are 16 developed routes to choose from ranging from half-day, full and multi-day rides all of which are clearly waymarked, and with gates which are easy to open without dismounting. It also covers 7 other designated routes in the area promoted for horse-riding but developed by other organisations outwith the SOSCT project.
If you fancy the thrill and excitement of a day at the races, can we suggest you pay a visit to Kelso Races, a National Hunt Racecourse staging jump racing from October through to May. Voted ‘Britain’s Friendliest Racecourse’ in a Sunday Times survey, the venue plays host to 13 race fixtures throughout the season, including the Buccleuch Cup, Party in the Paddock, and of course Ladies Day - always a popular fixture and the perfect excuse to dress-up and look out those hats! The Racecourse offers a number of different hospitality packages. Reserved Table Hospitality Packages and Private Box Packages can also be arranged for group events or corporate entertainment.
Floors Castle Horse Trials
Organised by a small team including the Duchess of Roxburghe, Jamie Innes and multiple Olympic medalist Ian Stark, the Floors Castle Horse Trials are held in May, set against the spectacular backdrop of Floors Castle. Rapidly gaining a reputation as one of Scotland’s foremost riding events, it promises 3 days of exciting competition in dressage, showjumping and cross-country disciplines.
For riding tuition there are a number of stables in the area offering a range of different services, and we have taken the opportunity to provide a brief outline below...
Kimmerston Riding Centre
Riding, Hacks and Instruction. Riverside, woodland, hill and beach rides available ranging in duration from 1-3 hours. Groups welcome. BHS Approved.
Flodden Edge Riding Centre
Flodden Edge Farm
Farm location situated at historic Flodden Battlefield. Qualified tuition for all levels and abilities. Includes dressage, cross-country and eventing. Specialist carriage driving tuition available.
Shipley Lane Equestrian
Riding Lessons, Training and Schooling for individuals or groups up to six. Includes countryside hacks and trail rides. Overnight care and accommodation for horses available. BHS Approved.
Cowdenknowes Riding School
Riding school and equestrian centre offering horse riding lessons and other equine services. BHS Approved.
Ian Stark Equestrian Centre
Ian Stark is a 4 x Olympic medal winner, and his centre is available for lessons and hacking 7 days a week with around 40 horses and ponies. BHS approved. Training in all equestrian disciplines. Specialist packages/services available.
Lead-rein forest rides, as well as forest and moorland treks on well-schooled and well mannered horses. Suitable for all ages and abilities.
Nenthorn Riding Centre
Pony club & riding centre aimed at all ages and abilities. Qualified tuition across a range of disciplines. Horses available for Common Riding events.
Saint Foin Riding Stables
Wide range of horses to suit all levels and abilities with riding lessons on an all-weather arena. One or two hour off-road hacks available. Beach or hill and forest rides can be arranged. Horses and ponies available for all Border Common Ridings.