new years day parade

Credit: Jo Monck

Sixty four horses took to the streets of the capital for London’s New Year’s Day Parade on Friday (1 January).

Riders and handlers of all ages were invited from across the UK to take part in the annual parade.

The equestrian procession started at Piccadilly Circus and finished at Parliament, with the return route passing Horse Guards Parade, the Mall and Buckingham Palace.

At the Cenotaph all the horses were stopped in a line and riders bowed their heads as a mark of respect to the fallen soldiers and horses.

new years day ride 1“So many breeds of horses were represented including quarter horses, Norwegian fjords, Holsteins, warmbloods, traditional cobs, thoroughbreds, appaloosas and Irish sport horses,” said participant Karen Brett-McGee.

“Some of the team were professional competitors from a variety of equestrian disciplines and others were happy hackers. Nothing could prepare them for the 500,000 people wanting to meet them in the crowds.

Darcy, six, almost missed out on the parade

Darcy, six, almost missed out on the parade

“It was a real team effort and seeing the delight on the crowd and children’s faces was definitely a highlight that none will forget.”

The youngest riders were Megan Jones, six, who travelled from Anglesey, and Darcy Pritchard, seven, from Stoke-on-Trent.

Darcy and her sister Ellouise, 11, were able to take part in the parade thanks to the help of fellow horse lover Eliza Poulton. The girls came close to losing out on the opportunity when both their ponies sustained injuries.

Credit: Jo Monck

Credit: Jo Monck

Eliza, who works for her father at Poulton Racing, in Lewes, East Sussex, heard about the family’s disappointment through a friend. She stepped in to provide two of her own ponies for them to ride instead.

Alongside the horses, jugglers, cheerleaders, acrobats, clowns and marching bands took part in the parade.

This year’s festivities took on the theme of “A Magical Thirty Years” to celebrate the main parade’s 30th year.