After a couple of days at home eating chocolate (yum) Easter Monday felt like a day to go out and about. Sadly the weather was not as pleasant as it had been earlier in the weekend and while it didn’t rain, it was very overcast and freezing cold, not helped by the icy arctic wind blowing all day. So where to go in such inclement conditions, a nice warm museum or gallery perhaps, oh no, how about to the South of England Showground at Ardingly to watch the London Harness Horse Parade!
Now I had no idea about this event until I read a short snippet about it in a local newspaper, but it has apparently been taking place every year in it’s current form since 1966, and before that it was actually two separate events – the London Cart Horse Parade founded in 1885 and traditionally held on Whit Monday and the London Van Horse Parade started in 1904 and held on Easter Monday. Declining numbers in the two parades saw them amalgamate in 1966 under the title of London Harness Horse Parade to be held on Easter Monday in Battersea Park; the event later moved from Battersea in 2006 to its permanent home at Ardingly Showground. It’s a strange event with a handful (literally) of trade stands, a couple of vintage cars and tractors
The very odd Southern television outside broadcast unit from the 1960’s
but with horses aplenty from fluffy cuddly Shetland ponies to majestic Shires all towing an equally wide variety of vehicle from tiny 2-wheel gigs to brightly painted costermongers carts and brewery drays.
Some of the fabulous harness horses (and donkey) parading on Easter Monday
I take my hat off to those hardy souls who braved the intense cold to parade their animals. It’s not a huge event and only lasts for barely half a day – the whole thing closes at 2pm, and sadly I think the cold weather may well have put off some visitors.
3 jolly hardy gentlemen! cute knitted donkeys
The horses and donkeys were the definite stars of the day, but it would have been nice to have had some more varied sideshows, stalls and demonstrations and in greater number to give spectators something else to look at while the lengthy business of judging was carried out prior to the main parade at 1pm. Still I am glad I went, as it was great to see the effort that individuals have made to restore and maintain the vehicles as well as their beautiful and shiny prancing horses!
Dolly, a beautiful Belgian Draft mare pulling a 1940’s agricultural tip cart
The Cutest Ever….
Miniature Shetland ponies Helawi Mountbatten and Helawi Masquerade pulling a Bennington Mini Magnum