The Ancient Order of Mosstroopers

The Ancient Order of Mosstroopers is the formal name given to the historic roll of the Mosstroopers’ Club, membership in which can only be granted to those who have completed the arduous twenty-four-mile horseback ride, over rough moorland, to the hotel at Mosspaul and back. This ride-out first took place in 1901, and whilst the club was probably informally formed in the same year, it was not until 1920 that it was officially founded, following a suggestion by J.E.D. Murray (whose own favourite horse became the model for the design of the Mosstroopers’ badge.) One of the main aims was to encourage riders to follow their Cornet throughout the Common Riding.

Badges for completing the Mosspaul ride-out were presented to women from 1920 until 1931, when following an injury sustained by one female rider this right was revoked. Though today women still follow the Cornet to Mosspaul, they are yet to be re-awarded the Mosstroopers’ badge.

The Club’s motto is ‘Aye Defend’, and their song ‘The Mosstrooper’s Song’. Their tie was designed in 1951 – moss green with red and yellow stripes – and a junior tie was designed in 1995. Perhaps the main event in the Club’s calendar is the Smoker for the Cornet, held on the evening of the Mosspaul Rideout. The Club also holds an annual ball. It is said that once a secret initiation into the Ancient Order of Mosstroopers existed, with new members smearing the sign of ‘the Hawick cross’ on their foreheads.