Saddle up for the ridings – Since the beginning of the 16th century the Common Ridings have formed an integral part of Scottish Borders tradition.
Common Riding is a celebration that involves townsfolk in a grand ‘ride-out’ on horse-back around the town and its historic boundaries. It dates back to a time when they needed to be kept under constant surveillance against incursion and encroachment.
And in the Scottish Borders they do it in style. Described in a Rough Guide travelogue as one of the Borders best kept secrets, the Ridings have a massive following and are a highlight on the region’s annual events calendar.
There are 11 border towns who share the ancient tradition known as riding the bounds with horses – and plenty of debate as to whose is the oldest. We can be certain that Hawick and Selkirk are among the biggest.
From May to August hundreds of riders saddle up for their respective territorial trots led by a standard bearer, usually elected by his local community.
Depending on where you are in the border region the standard bearer is known as the Laddie, Cornet, Coldstreamer, Bari Gadgi and Callant among other colourful descriptions.
Nowadays the Common Ridings form the centrepiece of civic celebrations and attract visitors from all over the world.
The events are friendly, heart-stirring and steeped in local history. Visitors are always made welcome and will soon find themselves joining in – whether it’s linking arms as the procession moves through the town or cheering the stunning displays of horsemanship as the riders gallop back into the town.
The town’s who stage common ridings include Coldstream, Duns, Galashiels, Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso, Lauder, Melrose, Peebles, Selkirk, Berwick and West Linton.