(Published:16 May 2019)
More than 140 horses and riders will set out to take part in the world-famous Golden Horseshoe Ride on Exmoor this weekend.
The oldest long-distance Endurance GB ride in the UK is widely regarded as one of the most challenging in Europe and sees competitors tackle classes ranging from 24km to 160km (100 miles) over spectacular moorland terrain.
The ride was first held in 1965 with The Daily Telegraph newspaper as main sponsor. Starting from the ride venue in Exford, the 100 mile (160km) route includes several well-known Exmoor landmarks. Designed in two loops, one to the north and one to the south, the course takes riders north via Wheddon Cross to Webbers Post in the shadow of Dunkery Beacon, and then west towards Porlock. The second southerly route sees riders head west towards Withypool and Hawkridge before descending from the moor through woodland to cross the River Barle near Dulverton and then back to Exford via Winsford.
The ride attracts Endurance GB competitors of all levels across a range of classes over the three days. This year, five riders will take on the greatest challenge The Golden Horseshoe Ride itself which covers 100 miles (160km) in two days. The five include three west country-based riders, David Yeoman from Somerset riding Eaunoire Cassie, Gillian Mann from Exeter with HS Parnasse and Kirsty Wiscombe from Dorset riding Yawl Hill Maverick. Travelling further afield are Gillian Talbot from Chepstow with Sa'da Sekora and Sue Cox from Cambridgeshire with Eden El Nyhl.
Five riders will tackle the Exmoor Stag class, which takes competitors over 120km (74.5 miles) in two days. Again the West Country is well represented by three riders, Karen Jones from Cullompton with Treasured Moonbeam, Amanda Tovey from Bristol with Diving Belle and Carri-Ann Dark from Wiltshire with HS Drift. Also lining up in the Exmoor Stag class are Sue Box from Usk with Kazeme El Mystral and Kathy Carr from Leicestershire with Aberllwyd Femme Fatalle.
The most popular class over the weekend is the 24km Pleasure Ride with nearly 50 entries. Horses have to pass stringent vet checks before starting as well as veterinary inspections during the ride to ensure they are fit to continue. Riders and horses are supported during the ride by crew who travel to water points along the route.
Ride organiser Jo Chisholm said after rain and then sunshine this week, the going on the moor for the ride is good and the weather forecast of light cloud and a gentle breeze for the weekend would make for ‘near perfect conditions’.
Cornwall-based Jo, who runs the ride with husband Andrew along with an army of Endurance GB volunteers said: “We are pleased with the level of entries and both the weather and ground conditions look set to provide the ideal conditions for tackling this spectacular course. The Golden Horseshoe Ride attracts riders from across the country and we are looking forward to welcoming them and seeing a wonderful and enjoyable two-days of competition.”
Rebecca Kinnarney, Chair of Endurance GB said: “The Golden Horseshoe and Exmoor Stag classes are two of the greatest classes in the Endurance GB calendar. A completion at this event is regarded as a pinnacle of achievement in our sport but is an achievable ambition with a combination of fit, well-prepared horse and rider, clement weather conditions and a light sprinkling of luck! We wish everyone taking part every success but more importantly, a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.”
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