The Sailors Horse

Welcome to the Online home of The Traditional Sailors Hobby Horse of Minehead, Unlike our friends down the road in Padstow, we call our horse either The Hobby Horse or just The Horse not the ‘Obby  Oss. but similar to them we do go out over Mayday each year. We do stop in Pubs and Bars and have many singing and tune sessions, anyone is welcome to join in with these sessions and in turn maybe asked if they would like to play on the street for the Horse.

Whitecross 1st May 2020
John and The Horse Whitecross 2020

Due to the Covid-19 Virus in 2020 we were unable to do nearly all of our usual Mayday celebrations, however with full Police Support and following the social distancing guidelines in place at the time, the Horse did go to Whitecross on May 1st to make sure the tradition was unbroken. We hope to see you at next years May Day celebrations.

We start on Warning Night 30th April where the horse will appear for a short trip around the town to let people know we are here and be prepared for what may happen!

On May Morning we walk from the Quay to Whitecross an ancient boundary of the town, we arrive just before 6 am, so please be aware that if you move to Minehead there is a chance you could be woken at 5 am once a year, as we play the drums all the way. It has been known for a Vicar to bless the Horse and to say prayers at this point, this may stem from a time in the 1800’s when the church tried to ban the Horse, after a man was killed for not paying his dues to the Horse.

Horse in the Castle Courtyard
The Horse in Dunster Castle

After this we head out to Dunster at around 11 am to process the village for a few hours and frequent a bar or two. During the occupation of the Castle by the Luttrell family, the Horse called in to collect it’s dues but now the Castle being owned by The National Trust this has fallen into abeyance. In the Dunster castle records there is a document dated 1795, showing a payment of dues to the Hobby Horse, as far as we know this is the earliest mention of any Hobby Horse in the country.

We return to Minehead for around 4 or 5 pm  and play the horse back from Alcombe to the Quay, where the horse will be stabled for the night.

On the second of May, we go around the local housing estates in the early evening, there is no historical or traditional baring on this but it gives a chance for local children and working families to see the horse without having to go looking for it. This is generally one of the best times to see the horse interact with local people of all ages, as young and old alike come to dance with the horse.

Horse saying Hello to elderly resident
Greeting the Horse

On third May, we leave the Quay in the early evening and make our way up to Cher Steep for the bootie*, The Traditional Horse has never missed a year at Cher we perform a few booties at the top of the steep then make our way back down to the quay stopping for a while at Wellington Square to perfrom some more booties. we are generally joined by the Town Horse when we get to Cher and travel back together and do joint booties.

A Bootie

*A bootie is where a member of the public is held by their shoulders and feet under the front of the horse, the horse then lifts up and then falls down onto the person in a controlled way! the person then dances with the horse for a few times through the tune.