Famous Golden Horseshoe endurance ride in jeopardy

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Mary Hannah (58) on Kingsby Nutmeg and Katie Hannah (59) on Kingsby Elderberry Bronze, crossing the ford at Nethercote. Both are native Exmoor Ponies.
Mary Hannah on Kingsby Nutmeg and Katie Hannah on Kingsby Elderberry Bronze, crossing the ford at Nethercote during the 2012 Golden Horseshoe Ride. Both are native Exmoor Ponies.

Britain’s famous Golden Horseshoe Endurance Ride on Exmoor may end after its 50th running in May, with the retirement of the present organising committee.

If new organisers can’t be found then the 50th anniversary ride from May 17 to 19 will be the ride’s swansong.

Para rider Sue Salmon earned a gold on Melford Solo.
Para rider Sue Salmon passing the famous Golden Horseshoe, riding to gold on Melford Solo.© Ian Wigley

Ride Organiser Barbara Wigley, who has chaired the committee for the past nine years, said several years ago she would retire after the 50th anniversary ride. “At that time the rest of the committee said they would continue until then, but in the meantime a few have had to retire due to ill-health, etc.,” Wigley said.

“So far no-one has come forward to take it on. We are all getting older, and really it needs some new blood.”

The Golden Horseshoe is a timed ride, with awards given for speed attained, together with condition of the horse. Penalties are given for any pulse above 55 at the finish, and obviously a pulse above 64 incurs elimination. Thus to get the top award of ‘Gold’, the rider has to ride within the horse’s capabilities.

The upcoming ride is also unique as it has been allocated the Endurance GB National Championship and Young Rider Championship – the first time that these events have been held at a non-race ride.

Wigley said fund raising was a major part of organising the ride, as it was an expensive event to run. “It also involves many volunteer helpers, some of whom come from all over the country, at their own expense, simply because they love the ride, and to meet up with old friends again.

Jarolyn Paget on Midnight Mischief and Anthony Sargent with El Kaleefa Rose on the 2010 ride.
Jarolyn Paget on Midnight Mischief and Anthony Sargent with El Kaleefa Rose on the 2010 ride.

“The landowners around here are excellent, and allow us to use private land – moving stock especially to allow us through some wonderful riding country.”

The 50th anniversary ride will start with an Opening Ceremony, where all horses and riders parade in front of the ‘Horseshoe’ and Ronald Duncan’s daughter, Briony Lawson, will be reading his poem The Horse.

Ronald Duncan and Col Sir Mike Ansell were the organisers of the first Golden Horseshoe Ride, 1965.

The Horse is read out each year at the Horse Of The Year Show grand finale, so we thought it would be a fitting tribute to our horses at GHR,” Wigley said.

“We are still hoping that someone will come along and take on the organisation but it is looking very unlikely. There is a faint possibility that it could move around the country, as it did in the early years, before settling down to its permanent home on Exmoor in 1974, but it is difficult to find anywhere with the variety of terrain that Exmoor has, which makes the event such a challenge,” Wigley said.

“Undoubtedly there will be tears when the event finishes in May.”

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One thought on “Famous Golden Horseshoe endurance ride in jeopardy

  • March 26, 2015 at 9:51 am
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    This is typical people love to go to these rides but just don’t front up to help. It will be very disheartening for the people who have run the ride all this time.
    Maybe someone will get up and take over.

    Reply

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