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Common Ridings in the Borders

Those of us living in this beautiful part of Southern Scotland are proud of our rich equestrian heritage. Horses carried the men of the Borders into many a battle.

It was on horseback too that the ‘bounds’ were checked as the people of the Borders protected their own from marauders. Their legacy lives on in some of the spectacular ‘Common Ridings’ – unique, annual, equestrian festivals that celebrate our indebtedness to our Borders‘ ancestors. These annual Common Ridings attract people from all over the World to the Scottish Borders and are an inescapable part of the Borders' culture. These unique, spectacular, riding festivals are steeped in tradition and reach out to people in different ways. The only way to understand them is to take part. Everyone who attends a Common Riding is 'taking part' in his or her own way - so being a by-stander is not really an option!
All of the main towns in the Borders have a 'common riding' - or something similar but each one has its own unique spirit and specific traditions. Typically, a 'Standard Bearer' or other named representative, i.e. Braw Lad, Cornet etc. is selected from the young men of the town, mounts his horse and leads a massive procession of mounted and foot followers through the town. He proudly carries the town flag - a huge and weighty 'standard' creating a marvellous spectacle. He then leads his cavalcade of riders out of the town into the hills and around the town's ancient boundaries re-enacting the age old ritual of 'riding the marches.'

Visit Abbotsford House | Sir Walter Scott's home - touring Scotland

Braw Lads Ride Out
Hawick Common Riding - 9th - 10th June
Selkirk Common Riding - 16th June
Melrose Festival Week - 18th - 24th June
Peebles Beltane - 18th - 24th June
Galashiels Braw Lads Gathering - 25th June- 1st July
Jedburgh Callants Festival - 18th June - 8th July
Earlston Civic Week - 8th July
Kelso Civic Week- 16th - 22nd July
Duns Summer Festival - 2nd - 9th July
Langholm Common Riding - 28thJuly
Coldstream Civic Week - 6th - 12th August
Lauder Common Riding - 5th August
Gala Braw Lads
Visitors are always welcome to join the thousands of people singing the traditional Common Riding songs, either in the streets or at the many special concerts that form part of these celebrations. Bands play, people dance and in general there is much 'good will' to be had!
 
To the uninitiated, at first encounter, these Common Ridings may appear to be light hearted riding pageants. Scratch beneath the surface however and you'll find yourself part of a culture with roots going back to the mists of time. There's no doubt that these unique festivals have been influenced by a number of factors over the centuries; their essence however endures.

The Border Common Ridings are all about belonging. They are about surviving. They are about remembering our ancestors and our families. They are also about the legacy Borderers leave to their children and their children's children. To find out when the Common Ridings take place, where you can hire a horse for the day or where you can stay if you are visiting the area - click on the links to the left.
selkirk ride out These festivals certainly offer a truly thrilling riding experience. Galloping across the hills at the crack of dawn in the company of around 300 to 400 fellow riders sets the heart alight and does more than just raise the spirits.
 
 There are many moving moments too though in these festivals, where poignant speeches are made, memorials are visited and special honours conveyed.

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