‘Tis the season to be jolly’ and all that — but everyone needs a break from the non-stop eating, the kids fighting over their presents, and Auntie Maureen hogging the remote control and insisting on watching back-to-back Antiques Roadshow. Deck your horse’s head with tinsel (optional!) and head out for a hack with like-minded Christmas refugees on one of these fun festive rides…
1. Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire
Naphill Riding Club is holding a ‘Tinsel Ride’ (or dog walk, for the horseless) on 29 December, at Kensham Farm in the beautiful Chilterns. Everyone gets a rosette, and there’s mulled wine and mince pies once you’re done, so deck your horse or dog — and yourself, of course — in appropriate festive attire and join the festivities. Visit the Naphill Riding Club website for more information www.naphillridingclub.co.uk
2. Skipton, Yorkshire
You’re spoilt for choice for Christmas fun rides if you live in ‘God’s own county’! Craven Country Ride in Skipton, North Yorkshire has miles of tended grass tracks, and obstacles ranging from 18” up to 3”3, meaning there’s something here to keep every level of rider entertained. They’re running ‘Special Christmas Trails’ on 6 and 13 December. Visit www.cravencountryride.co.uk to book your place.
3. Leeds, Yorkshire
The Rothwell Rudolph Romp takes place at Rothwell Country Park, Leeds, on 13 December. With a variety of distances to choose from, from very short to 30km, there are prizes for best dressed horse/rider, best dressed team and best helper. Visit heyevent.uk for more info.
4. Doncaster, Yorkshire
Over-18s might like the sound of the Booze and Bacon Butty Ride on 24 December, at Fir Tree Equestrian Centre, near Doncaster. With bacon butties to get you going, and delicious hot punch available before and after, you can ride one of the centre’s horses, or they’ll arrange drop-off/collection so you’re not tempted to drink and drive. Check out heyevent.uk for further details.
5. Mansfield, Derbyshire
You don’t need your own horse to attend one of the Derbyshire Pony Trekking tinsel rides on 19 and 20 December — just hop on one of their sure-footed beasts. You can enjoy fabulous views from the top of Poulter Country Park across four counties — Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. That’ll blow the cobwebs away after one eggnog too many. Dressing up as Santa or a Christmas elf is optional — but the photos will be so much better! Visit www.derbyshire-ponytrekking.co.uk for more details.
6. Lanydrock, Cornwall
The Lanydrock Christmas Ride, organised by Endurance GB South West, is always extremely popular. This year it’s being held on 13 December — a 16km trek across the grounds of this stunning National Trust Property. It’s already booked up, but worth bearing in mind for next time — just be aware that tinsel is obligatory! Keep an eye on www.endurancegbsouthwest.co.uk for details of this and the other rides they run.
7. Wimbledon, London
Take a break from the madness of the capital during Christmas and head off for a chilled hack instead — without leaving the city. Wimbledon Village Stables is offering a special Christmas Eve two-hour ride round Wimbledon and Richmond Commons for more advanced riders only. Visit www.wvstables.com for more info or to book.
8. Congleton, Cheshire
The Biddulph Christmas Ride takes place on Sunday 20 December. Run by Sport Endurance, a National Endurance/Long Distance Riding organisation, distances for the pleasure ride are 8, 14 or 20 miles, with promises of mince pies and a wee sherry afterwards, to keep you going! Visit www.sportendurance.co.uk to find out more.