Britain’s famous Golden Horseshoe Endurance Ride over Exmoor is including an invitation-only event for Para riders this year.
The ride, from May 12 to 14, has eight competitive classes and will this year host the 48th running of the famous Golden Horseshoe, which in its early days was 75 miles long but is now a daunting 100 miles.
“The three days of the Golden Horseshoe Ride has always been viewed as one of the highlights of the endurance season,” says organiser Barbara Wigley.
“What we have attempted to do this year is to turn it into a festival of endurance by widening the choice of challenges available and to make it accessible to everyone.
“The Paralympics last year proved the determination and ability of Para riders and we saw no reason why they should not be given their chance to take on Exmoor as well. This year it is by invitation only but in future years, who knows!”
Riders in the Para class – who will each be ‘paired’ with an experienced Exmoor endurance rider – will be ex-showjumper and jockey Edward Chanin from Thorverton near Exeter, Sue Salmon from Bury St Edmunds, Tilly Shepherd who makes the journey from Fordingbridge and Sarah Takle from nearby Dulverton.
The Para riders will use the 25km Pleasure Ride route (ahead of the Pleasure Ride), and will be vetted and timed as a competitive ride.
Three other new endurance tests have also been introduced:
- The Exmoor Extra, 120km run over three rides of 40km each day for horse and rider combinations graded at advanced level
- The Exmoor 40 – 40km for riders and horses competing at Open level or above
- The Exmoor Novice – one day of 40km, where novice horses and riders aim at slower completion speeds.
The programme is completed by the two-day Exmoor Stag class over 80km and 40km routes, the 80km one-day Exmoor 80 and the popular Exmoor Experience class, where the two 40km-a-day rides are designed to give riders and horses a taste of competition over the very testing Exmoor terrain.
To round off this sparkling new programme, there will be the Horseshoe Team Challenge, designed for groups of three or four riders who will be competing in any of the classes and where the best three results will count. There is also the first ride of the three-day annual festival, a 25km sponsored pleasure ride which attracts participants from all over the country.
Early entries include 14-year-old Katy Mellor from Shropshire, who this year tries her hand at the 160km Golden Horseshoe.
“Katy is a perfect example of riders ‘growing up’ on Exmoor,” says Barbara.
“She started out in the Exmoor Experience, graduated last year to the 120km of the Exmoor Stag and this year moves on to the ultimate challenge.”