Horseman’s Sunday – a report from Surrey Hills

Horseman’s Sunday returns to St Martha’s Church for a celebration of horse riding in the Surrey Hills

Horseman’s Sunday returned to the picturesque church of St Martha-on-the-hill for a unique and special event, celebrating horse-riding in the Surrey Hills.

Both horse riders and members of the community on-foot gathered at the top of St Martha’s Hill for a beautiful service lead by the new vicar, David Oakden. During the short service, he blessed the horses, and they received a commemorative Surrey Hills rosette. Reverend David Oakden comments;

“It was a joy to once again welcome horses and riders to the Horseman’s service.  This is an historic annual event which acknowledges the work of the horse from long before cars took over the roads.  It is a rural service and helps to bring the community together, so what better way than to celebrate the horse and welcome so many people, their dogs and of course horses and ponies, who all stood so patiently to receive their blessing.

Horseman’s Sunday is embedded in rich history, the first event occurring at Hyde Park in 1967, which still attracts increasing crowds. This was the first Surrey Hills Horseman’s Sunday since 2019 due to the pandemic, and participants were thrilled to be reunited finally for such a meaningful event. This occasion was especially prominent, as part of the celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

A brilliant congregation of horses and over 50 spectators took part in the service, overlooking the stunning landscape. Mark, an attendee of the event comments;

“I really enjoyed being able to take part in the event. Seeing the horses line-up outside the church walls was such a spectacle, and what better setting than in the heart of the Surrey Hills. Horseman’s Sunday is a fantastic event to celebrate horses, horse riding and community in the Surrey Hills.”

Horse riders lining up at St Martha’s Church ready for the service to begin

Not only does Horseman’s Sunday celebrate horse-riding in the Surrey Hills, but also looks help enable all our communities to connect with their passion for horses. After the service, a collection was made of kind donations to go towards the running and protection of the historic St Martha’s Church, and for local charity Big Leaf Foundation. Big Leaf supports displaced young people in providing opportunities and activities to increase their sense of safety, belonging and purpose in their new environment. The Surrey Hills have been working on a variety of projects with Big Leaf during the last few months, including taking part in the Nature Connections programme, to welcome and connect people with nature. The collections made at Horseman’s Sunday will go towards their equestrian programme which gives displaced young people the chance to spend time with horses- developing skills in communication, coaching, horsemanship and English language.

The Surrey Hills has great pride in the committed equestrian communities that enjoy and help protect the landscape. Later in 2022, the Surrey Hills will be launching a new website which features high quality equestrian routes for all to enjoy. They will also utilise support from their conservation volunteers to help keep the trails safe and protect surrounding habitat.

Visit the webpage here for more information on horse-riding and hacking trails across the Surrey Hills.

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