*WARNING: May contain ponies*
Most people look forward to Christmas Day, and while I do enjoy it, I'm more excited about Boxing Day.
Over the last twenty years, Fir Tree Equestrian Centre (Doncaster, Yorkshire) have created a tradition of getting in the Christmas spirit, and riding the horses to the local pubs.
We have up to forty horses and riders taking part, with tinsel as far as the eye can see.
It's become an annual thing - local residents know that the back roads will be filled with horses in their Christmas outfits, and they all come out to watch.
For me, it has become a staple of my Christmas tradition. No matter where I have been working in the UK & Ireland, I have always returned to join in. Since I was fourteen (which is more years ago than I'd like to admit), I have only missed it once - I was ill, and I had to watch my sister take my perfect horse out.
This year was a lot of fun. We had good wintry weather (cold, but no ice, and no rain), and a good bunch of people. This has always been a very family-friendly day out, where everyone is welcome. We're often accompanied by non-riders on bikes, or driving up to the pubs to meet us.
If you would like to see the full album, head over to Fir Tree's Facebook page.
I am lucky enough to own an absolutely cracking horse called Neo (except from when he's being a git, then I'm unlucky). Neo is fairly used to my mad tendencies to dress him up, and he likes the attention he gets.
See if you can spot this gorgeous black horse in the full album:
(And yes, Neo's "show name" is Mr Anderson.)
Amongst the other fun riders, there was also my editor, Lesley Neale.
Fir Tree was actually where Lesley and I met, many years ago, and she has been an awesome friend since, and supported me as a writer.
In case you missed it, Lesley recently published her own, non-fiction work. Check out more details on my blog post here.
The ride takes about three hours in total, with nice long breaks for both horse and riders at the pub. There are wide, grassy areas, where the horses graze, whilst we humans grab a drink and snacks. (Some of our horses are so used to this, they put the brakes on anytime we pass the pub...)
After all the fun, riding and drinking, we head back to base. Once the horses are tucked up in their warm stables, we get to enjoy homemade soup, burgers (and more drinks).
Check out the rest of the photos in Fir Tree's album!
Hope you all have a Happy New Year!