26 top riders reveal their favourite Christmas traditions (from pre-pandemic times…)

  • From mucking out to Champagne and everything in-between, find out what some the equestrian world’s best look forward to the most over the festive period, when not having to comply with Covid-19 restrictions…

    Rebecca Hughes

    “We love getting away to catch some winter sun as it’s the quietest time of year for us. We open up pressies Christmas morning, ride a few horses then catch an evening flight.”

    Louise Bell

    “Apart from eating and drinking, I always go for a Christmas morning hack and help the staff so they get an easier day, so basically I work to give them the day or at least half a day off.”

    Lee Pearson

    “I love having as much family around me as possible. We usually gather at my parent’s house or one of my brother’s houses and there’s all of us including parents, bothers, nieces and nephews.”

    Jonelle Price

    “Drinking mulled wine, roasting the goose and seeing the Christmas tree lights. I love turning the lights off in the house and letting the tree lights take over!”

    Laura Tomlinson

    “My family all go to church and when we get back we wait outside my grandparents’ home until a little bell rings which means the angels have gone and we are allowed in to see the tree and all the presents. Then we read the Christmas story, sing a few carols out of tune with my grandmother playing piano and then we do presents. This all happens on Christmas Eve in Switzerland. Luckily we have some kids now so that we don’t look quite so mad keeping this tradition up… it was a little suspect when the “children” were us and we are all in our 30s!”

    Laura Collett

    “Sometimes we have a puissance competition between some of the horses in the yard, but other times I’ve actually just had a day off riding, which has been great!”

    Steph Croxford

    “Wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, going for a walk to pick the holly for the cake and then heading off to the village crib service with Simon and the kids before making mince pies and home made sausage rolls ready for breakfast on Christmas morning.”

    Alice Oppenheimer

    “We always have our Christmas meal (turkey and all the trimmings) in the evening as, if we have it at lunch, we have that Christmas Day feeling and struggle to drag ourselves out to finish the horses, so I love sitting down with family and we sometimes have friends round to enjoy the meal.”

    Peter Charles

    “The football, especially Liverpool! I try and go on either Boxing Day or New Year’s Day and watch the other on the telly.”

    Pippa Funnell

    “William and I have done the same every Christmas for 25 years. We get up do the horses with our team that have drawn the short straw and have stayed for Christmas. Having done the yard they all come for a Champagne breakfast. I cook a large ham on Christmas Eve so William then does ham and eggs for breakfast while I am in charge of the turkey. Thank goodness for mum who always stays and helps me to get organised for our annual big family lunch.”

    Alan Davies

    “I love Boxing Day. We get all the horses hacked in the morning, anyone staying at Carl’s house has to come out and help! And then we have the afternoon free to watch the racing. I love watching the King George on Boxing Day afternoon. I don’t often get a chance to watch the racing so I love it when I can.”

    Dan Sherriff

    “Christmas is about family and friends with the horses mixed in. Believe it or not, I muck out over Christmas to help the yard get done quickly. I then come in for a nice smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast with my family. The horses are then hacked, followed by full on Christmas lunch. I used to hunt as a child so I still like to visit a Boxing Day meet but only on foot theses days.”

    Sophie Christiansen

    “Christmas dinner of course. It’s easily my favourite meal, even with sprouts!”

    Alex Hardwick

    “I love Christmas Day! My family wakes up about 7.30ish and we go to feed and muck out the horses, which helps to get the appetite going. Then my dad will bring us all down sandwiches and Champagne — the perfect way to start the celebrations.”

    Mary King

    “After doing the horses, going to church and walking to the beach with relations for a swim, we then head back for a big traditional Christmas meal.”

    Graham Fletcher

    “Mistletoe — but nowadays I can’t find any takers!”

    William Whitaker

    “My favourite Christmas tradition is having all the family round at my mum and dad’s house, opening the presents followed by a huge Christmas dinner.”

    Alex Bragg

    “On Christmas morning our three daughters join us in bed, no matter what time they wake up, and we open all our stocking presents with a glass of Champagne (Bucks Fizz for the girls) before going downstairs to commence with Christmas Day.”

    Jonty Evans

    “I love the roast dinner with everything on. It’s the one time of year I let myself eat everything I want and then hopefully play games with my kids. I love Christmas Eve hunting too.”

    Laura Renwick

    “I love putting up the Christmas tree and all the decorations, making the house feel all Christmassy! I usually put mine up quite early as I love that time of the year.”

    Maria Eilberg

    “With my dad being German, we are great fans of the Christmas markets and I love going to the one in Birmingham, although the ones in Germany are amazing.”

    Mike Eilberg

    “My favourite tradition would have to be our Christmas Day breakfast. We give all the horses Christmas Day off, so after they are all mucked out and fed, everyone comes in for a full American breakfast with pancakes, maple syrup and all the trimmings. Normally breakfast is a very quick on-the-go thing in our house, so this is a real treat to look forward to.”

    Dan Greenwood

    “My favourite Christmas tradition is going away immediately afterwards to Cornwall with the dogs. Christmas is fun but exhausting. It’s like normal life plus — plus shopping, plus party planning, plus food, plus alcohol — I’m feeling anxious at the very thought of it!”

    Beanie Sturgis

    “Boxing Day is the best: lots of family around, hunting, brandy butter on toast and cold turkey. Perfect.”

    Mark Todd

    “My favourite Christmas tradition is the Champagne breakfast after all the horses have been done in the morning.”

    Amy Stovold

    “Putting the tree up while having a few drinks and listening to Christmas tunes. Having my daughter Florence to help will be really special this year. We have an artificial tree — I cant stand the mess of a real one!”

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