In the weeks leading up to the actual Common-Riding the Cornet and his supporters are out on their Ridesout. These take place on each Saturday and Tuesday. During the course of these Rides they visit many surrounding villages, including Bonchester, Denholm and Roberton, and several farms.
The Rides, led by the Cornet, leave from Backdamgate about lunchtime and go by Tower Knowe through various streets in the town, cheered by crowds as they pass. Riders are encouraged to wave to residents in the higher properties who are possibly unable to go down to cheer on the streets. When the Ride reaches the fields the Lasses give the Principals their hard hats before the Cornet leads the mounted supporters through the first field. The Right-Hand Man then acts as front marshal keeping the ride on time and on the correct route which has been agreed previously with the farmers whose land they cross. The Left-Hand Man acts as back marshal, making sure those at the back don’t fall too far behind and making sure the gates are closed. There are other mounted and foot marshals who assist with the Ride while the Cornet and Acting Father mix with the mounted supporters as they head for their destination. Just before the riders arrive the Lasses meet the Principals to exchange their hats for bowlers and riding crops.
When they arrive they are cheered by the waiting crowds of villagers and supporters who have arrived by car, bicycle and on foot. The riders then dismount, tend to their horses, have a break for two hours and enjoy refreshments.
The cavalcade then mount up and the Principals sing verses of "Teribus" before the return home to Hawick and Backdamgate where the Cornet and Acting Father thank the riders for their support. The four Principals each with a youngster on their shoulders proceed to the steps of Drumlanrig Tower and lead the assembled crowd in a singsong followed by a strive of money and Cornet’s photos, some of which he will sign. The Cornet’s party then attends one of the many functions organised for them by various organisations.
To encourage young riders, a Junior Ride Out with the Cornet was introduced in 2010. This was for boys and girls of primary 1-7 with lead reins only. The ride leaves the Common Haugh, up through the Avenue to the Museum, Wilton Park Road to Overhall and on to Wilton Dean, back to the Museum along the Avenue and returns to the Common Haugh. Refreshments are provided at the end of the ride and a presentation is made to the best turned out pony and rider.
The main Rideout however takes place on the Saturday two weeks before the Common-Riding weekend and on the following Tuesday. It consists of a twenty-four mile ride to Mosspaul and back. Riders who successfully complete this difficult ride may be eligible to become members of the "Ancient Mosstroopers". Principals from other towns often take part in these rides to Mosspaul. On the return from Mosspaul the Saxhorn Band meets the riders at the Volunteer Park and play in front of the cavalcade to the Tower Knowe. The first ride to Mosspaul was in 1901 when James Sutherland was Cornet.
The Tuesday afternoon’s Ridesout were originally intended for shop workers, as early closing on Tuesdays gave them the chance to take part. The Saturday Ridesout gives those who can’t manage on Tuesdays, such as mill workers and school children, the chance to see or join the Cornet and his supporters.
These Ridesout are not part of the official Common Riding festival. However, they are enthusiastically supported by young and old riders alike. The Ridesout give neighbouring communities the chance to welcome and congratulate the newly-elected Cornet as well as providing good exercise for the horses for the important riding of the marches ro come. Women have been officially allowed on most Ridesout since 1997 following the Lady Riders dispute during the 1996 Common-Riding.
Four hunder horsemen
In yeh streekit line
Wardens o' customs
Come doon thrae lang syne
Four hunder horsemen
Duist yin ev'ry year
Upliftin' the slogan
A' Teries haud dear.
J E D Murray