The scene is set for Britain’s biggest and most demanding endurance ride as the final preparations are completed for the Exmoor Golden Horseshoe Ride, from May 13 to 15.
The ride, with four competitive classes, is held over the challenging Exmoor terrain, classed as among the most challenging tests on the endurance calendar and attracts riders from all over the country, and sometimes from Europe.
“With London hosting this year’s Olympics, there’s a real buzz in the equestrian world at the moment and this year’s Golden Horseshoe is set to be as popular and exciting as ever,” said ride organiser Barbara Wigley.
“Exmoor takes a long time to dry out after the winter, but at the moment the ground is good. I do, however, hope that riders have remembered to include plenty of hillwork in their training because the 2012 route includes Exmoor’s famous – but very steep – Punchbowl in the competitive classes.”
This year’s event has a special prize up for grabs, too. Equine physiotherapist Mary Bromiley is offering £100 to the first rider on an Exmoor pony to complete 50 miles in one day.
“I know they can do it,” Bromiley said. “At the first Golden Horseshoe Ride in 1965, a number of Exmoor ponies completed the 50-mile linear course and then hacked home at the end of the day.”
The winner will also receive a permanent trophy, courtesy of the Ride’s organising committee.
Last year, top event rider Mary King completed the first day of the Exmoor Experience on board an Arab gelding called Mellow Jazz.
“It was an honour to be invited to take part and Jazz gave me a wonderful ride. While I wasn’t disappointed to see the finish line, the whole experience was thoroughly enjoyable and everyone was so friendly,” she said.
This year’s classes include:
- The Wessex Horseshoe sponsored pleasure ride – (about 15 miles)
- The Exmoor Experience – 80km over two days
- The Exmoor Eighty – 80km in one day
- The Exmoor Stag – 120km over two days, split 80/40
- The Exmoor Golden Horseshoe – 160km over two days, split 80/80.
More information: www.goldenhorseshoe-ride.co.uk