Despite wet weather forcing the cancellation of many equestrian events in Britain this season, the country’s most famous endurance ride will go ahead as planned.
Organisers of this year’s Golden Horseshoe Ride have alternate routes planned should sections of the track become too wet.
The event, on Exmoor from May 13 to 15, has the usual combination of hills, moorland, firm tracks and river crossings.
“Despite the fact that we’ve had all this rain, the moor is actually in reasonable condition at the moment,” Ride Organiser Barbara Wigley said. “However, the going for the ride depends on what the weather throws at us over the next few days. Exmoor will never be too dry, but much more rain could cause problems in some areas.”
Like all endurance events, Golden Horseshoe always puts the horses’ welfare first, and if more bad weather causes Exmoor to become deep and boggy in places, organisers have alternative routes to bypass these sections.
“I know the moor like the back of my hand, and am well aware of the areas which are likely to become waterlogged,” Wigley says.
“If the ground does get worse, I’ll keep riders to the edges rather than taking the course across the middle of the moor.”
Riders in the Exmoor Experience class (a class designed specifically for horse and rider combinations who are new to Golden Horseshoe) will be tackling a more hilly course than usual, adding a real sense of achievement for those who complete it.
This year’s Pleasure Ride will take riders through Staddon Hill, Bye Common, Winsford, Yellowcombe and Winsford Hill, while the main course crosses Exford Common, Almsworthy Common, Hawkcombe, Ley Hill, Horner Woods, Webbers Post, with half way at Burrow Farm outside Timberscombe. From the half way mark, riders will then tackle Exmoor’s steep Punchbowl onto Winsford Hill, Tarr Steps, Molland Common, Halscombe Allotment and finally Withypool Hill before crossing the famous Golden Horseshoe finish line.