Oh jings, the rain in Perthshire at the tail end of November has been enough to drive most horse owners completely daft as they struggle with winter keep and the grass has definitely gone off – so its forage all the way now for Scottish equines.

Now the fields are bottomless, so we all need to be ultra-responsible while out hacking and not churn up the ground – remembering our agreement not to damage the environment by ripping the green cover.

It’s definitely winter all the way and things are getting rather festive with the BHS Christmas lunch this week (every year the trustees treat the staff to a slap up) and a nice Christmas holiday looming.

It is the time of year when we get reflective, looking over the last year and all our achievements and those of our friends. And the BHS Scotland annual meeting takes place and this year we have much to celebrate, especially the news that Scotland will have a 15th regional committee with the creation of BHS Orkney where, thanks to the work of Katie Coward, we have an engaged cohort of BHS members wanting to work constructively to improve the lives of horses and riders on those beautiful islands.

There is such a history of equestrian culture on the islands, where the South Ronaldsay Boys Ploughing match has taken place for 200 years when the children all dress up as horses wearing elaborate heavily adorned harnesses to celebrate the serious business of ploughing – as testimony to the legacy of horse power.

Today, horse ownership is popular on the Orkneys with the Orkney Pony Club and Riding Club teams holding their own and often winning national leagues. It will be good for the BHS to get active there in the fields of welfare, access, safety and training on the islands and of course having fun and creating more new traditions!

The Welsh have a strangely equestrian Christmas tradition known as Mari Lwyd, where a group of revellers carry a decorated horses’ skull from door to door – demanding entry into the houses through song, the jaw of the horse skull actually moves and the 'horse' does the singing as it is carried by a good singer draped in a sheet and decorated with ribbons to give it a ghostly yet festive appearance!

The Mari Lwyd asks question in song and the house holder sings back the answer then the 'horse' goes in and enjoys much food and drink! The origins of this strange and singularly Welsh 'call and response' horse's head scenario seems to lie in pagan times with a spectral white horse linked to imagery from all over the UK and also as a way of venerating horses.

Mari Lwyd is thought to mean ‘Grey Mare’ but other research has shown it to also possibly mean ‘Holy Mary’ so maybe this strange custom is more rooted in a Christian Christmas than previously thought. Whatever its meaning it is a merry thing and the BHS likes anything that might be to do with venerating horses!

Back home in Scotland, we have some beautiful and well subscribed Boxing Day meets to look forward to in the South of Scotland but new festive equestrian traditions are also emerging – particularly in Fife where Benny and Isobel Duncan of Balmalcolm Clydesdales deliver Santa Claus around the village of Kettle in a dray pulled by Geordie and Davy.

Who doesn’t love a jingling Clydesdale? It doesn’t come more festive and bonny than that!