Historic Lanimers festival at risk as locals can't ride horses

TRADITIONAL celebrations in one of Scotland's most historic towns are facing a threat due to the lack of locals who know how to ride horses.

Crowds enjoy the Lanimar Day procession down Lanark High Street in June 1966
Crowds enjoy the Lanimar Day procession down Lanark High Street in June 1966

The town of Lanark in Lanarkshire features a yearly festival known as Lanimers and in recent times those chosen to take central roles have struggled to get to grips with the horses.

When the event was first created centuries ago, the vast majority of men living in the town would have had basic knowledge of how to ride a horse.

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And many residents would have regularly been on horseback to go to work or to travel around the surrounding area.

Lanimers Day 2015. Picture Sarah Peters

However, the advent of the car and other modes of transport has meant the art of riding has been ignored by many people.

And as a result, those chosen to take part in the Lanimers celebrations, which include processions through the town led by the Lord Cornet, have to be taught how to ride a horse so they can participate.

But now a small group of residents have come together to create Lanark Riding Association in a bid to increase the number of horse riders in the town.

They hope to encourage as many people to take up riding and have been travelling through to stables in Edinburgh to refine their skills in the saddle for Lanimers, which was first held in 1140, and other summer festivals in nearby towns.

A view of the floats in the Lanimer Procession in Lanark.
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The founder of the club, Ian Douglas, recently moved back from Glasgow to Lanark and is keen to see as many people get involved as possible.

He said: “The Association has been formed to encourage local people to engage in the equestrian activities during Lanimer week and to facilitate their introduction to riding.

“A group of five local men, friends and friends of friends have already got involved and have been travelling through to Edinburgh over the last two months for lessons at Tower Farm Riding Stables who specialise in providing horses for Lanimer week and other summer riding festivals throughout the Borders and south of Scotland.

Some children get bored during the Lanimer Day parade taking place in Lanark in June 1974. I
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“A Lanark Riding Association Facebook page has been created and has already received a great deal of local interest.

“The ultimate goal is to develop local people’s riding skills to the extent that they are competent enough to take part in some Lanimer Week rides and other events at Scottish towns.

“I would welcome anyone over the age of 18 who is interested in getting involved to get in touch via the Facebook page.

Last year's event. Picture Sarah Peters.

“Only one of the group has previous riding experience from 35 years ago.

“The rest of them have made good progress in a short period of time with camaraderie playing its part and I hope to see them all on horseback in Lanimer Week.”

Lanimers is a celebration first held in 1140. It has changed over time but much of the current event has remained the same since 1890.

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When the town was made a Royal Burgh a condition was that the boundary stones had to be examined every year to check neighbouring landowner’s hadn’t encroached on it.

This quickly became known as Lanimers and the tradition now sees thousands descend on the town every year.

The Lanimers celebration was first held in 1140.

The week long celebration culminates in Lanimers Day itself, which takes place on the Thursday between June 6 and June 12 every year.

The Lanimers anniversary ride out and dedication of reinstated March stones. Picture Sarah Peters.
Lanimers Day 2015. Picture Sarah Peters
A view of the floats in the Lanimer Procession in Lanark.
Some children get bored during the Lanimer Day parade taking place in Lanark in June 1974. I
Last year's event. Picture Sarah Peters.
The Lanimers celebration was first held in 1140.
The Lanimers anniversary ride out and dedication of reinstated March stones. Picture Sarah Peters.