Change for annual horse blessing day

Horseman's Sunday. Canon Godfrey Hirst riding 'Molly Mascals' reads the blessing.
Horseman's Sunday. Canon Godfrey Hirst riding 'Molly Mascals' reads the blessing.

A long-standing Fylde tradition is being rested this year - and is set to return in 2016 at a new venue.

Former vicar of Lytham Canon Godfrey Hirst has hosted Horseman’s Sunday annually for the last two decades.

For many years it was held in the centre of Wrea Green village, while the last few events have taken place at the Penny Farm Horse Welfare centre at Peel.

Following a service including hymns, prayers and reading as well as a short homily, the event has seen each horse present individually blessed by keen horseman Canon Hirst as well as being presented with a commemorative rosette.

For the last few years, the event has incorporated the Stirrup Cup, a turnout competition for horses, and the 20th anniversary event last autumn attracted some 30 riders.

But the event is taking a break this year and will be back in 2016 at Lytham Hall.

Canon Hirst insists there is no problem – that it is purely a case of taking ‘a break for reflection’ and says he is very much looking forward to the new venue being launched in September next year.

He said: “After 20 years we have decided not to hold Horseman’s Sunday this year so that we can reflect on those of the past and plan for the 21st in 2016.

“We just felt that after two decades we needed to pause and evaluate purpose, content, style and venue.

“We want to ensure that this significant milestone in celebrating ‘The Horse’ will be a magnificent occasion and we are delighted to announce that a Festival of the Horse incorporating the Horseman’s Sunday Service with blessing of the horses and Stirrup Cup Competition will be held at Lytham Hall in the afternoon of Sunday, September 18, 2016.

“The Hall and grounds are a superb, accessible location for this event and we are so grateful to the executive committee of the Hall for granting us permission to use the premises. Further details will follow later.”

A Hall spokesman said: “We look forward to welcoming the Festival of the Horse next year.”

Last year’s 20th Horseman’s Sunday, coinciding with the centenary of the outbreak of the First World war, put a special focus on the role of the horse in warfare and Canon Hirst said he was delighted at the turnout.