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A horse walked into a pub: crowd turns out for festive bar tradition

A horse walked into a pub…

It might sound like the start of a very bad joke but on Christmas Day, in the Fox Inn, Rudgwick, a 12-year-old gelding called JB did just that.

In keeping with the annual tradition, Alex McAlpine led JB through the bar and out of the other side, to the delight of some 50 people.

Fox landlord Tristan Weaver told H&H the event is always popular.

“The whole village comes to watch,” he said. “We do Christmas lunch here but a lot of people who aren’t eating come up to see it while theirs is cooking.”

Mr Weaver explained that the pub was originally two buildings, one an almshouse, with a bridleway running between them, but at some point they became one, and the path was built over.

“Folklore says that running livestock through once a year maintains the right of way,” he said, adding that while a horse has been caught short in the bar at least once, no major incidents have occurred.

Alex McAlpine, of nearby equestrian centre Horse Riding Surrey, explained why 16.1hh JB had been chosen for the job.

“Last year, we did it with a Shetland and apparently some people complained he wasn’t big enough!” she told H&H.

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“They asked if we could take a bigger one this time, so we did. JB’s day job is being a hunt hireling so he’s unflappable, and in my business, we do a lot of pub rides, so he’s used to that sort of job.”

Alex said she had guests for Christmas and that when she told them about the event, they expected five or six people to turn up to watch.

“But you’d have thought Tom Cruise was arriving!” she said. “There were about 50 people there. JB stood in the bar for a bit, tried to help himself to a couple of pints, and then walked out. He’s a good egg.”

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