Harnesses and Headdresses
A festival that is just as unique is held annually in Orkney, but it couldn’t be more different to their neighbours’ Up Helly Aa. The Boys Ploughing Match and the Festival of the Horse is celebrated each August on the Sand o’ Wright in South Ronaldsay.
The Boys Ploughing Match is believed to date back to at least the late 1800s and was then reinvented in the early 1900s when they designed miniature metal or wooden ploughs to impersonate the adult ploughing match.
A ploughing match, whether for adults or children, is a serious business with the judge looking to see how straight each furrow is, whether it has been started and finished properly, and if it is the right depth.
By the early 20th century the young boys would also dress up as horses in decorated harnesses and headdresses similar to those of the Clydesdale horses used by their parents. As its name suggests, it was only young boys who took part originally, but since the late 1940s girls have also been allowed to participate.
Parents still create handmade ornate costumes to dress their children up as horses. Many of the costumes are passed down through generations, but with more detail added to them each year.
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