Sponsored and fun rides offer a wonderful opportunity to explore parks and countryside you'd never normally ride in, and for you, your friends and horses to have a good old blast together, while raising money for good causes. But there are a few things you'll learn along the way...
1. ‘Hmmm, perhaps it would have been a good idea to try something a little stronger than a snaffle after all,’ you think, as you try prevent your wildly over-excited horse from tackling all the jumps at full gallop.
2. You need to work on your ‘jump face’. Every shot the professional photographer took of you in mid-flight, you’re pulling a face that would have your mum saying, ‘if the wind changes, you’ll be stuck like that, and then you’ll be sorry’.
3. String isn’t really all that effective at holding rider number plates (or whatever they’re called) on. The sponsored ride is littered with them.
4. Your enjoyment of the ride is directly related to the time of day, or more specifically, the weather at the time of day you’re riding. If you get a couple of hours of sunshine (or even just not rain), you’ll remember the ride as a wonderful experience. If you don’t, you’ll be ever after cursing sponsored rides and all who, erm, ride in them.
5. It can seem longer to ride eight miles than to walk them. Although, to be fair, you did stumble across a horse-friendly pub on route. Talking of which….
6. Ride detours may be frowned upon by sponsored ride officials, but not by riders who’ve just stumbled across a horse-friendly pub en route and refuse to pass up such a heaven-sent opportunity.
7. Falling off in the water, around which all the non-riding spectators have congregated, is the most embarrassing thing in the whole wide world. Getting back on and carrying on riding with soggy pants, jods, boots and top, is the most unpleasant.
8. Map-reading on a horse is a lot harder than sticking a postcode into a satnav. Especially if your horse has decided he’s scared of deer/other horses/aggressively waving grass and keeps jumping about and squashing the map.
9. Screw it, just put the destination postcode into the satnav on your smartphone. Nobody will ever know…
10. …apart from the farmer whose land you’re now illegitimately riding across. He’s waving a pitchfork at you. Ooops.
11. Maybe, thinking about it, you should have gone for the three mile route instead of the 12 mile one. You’ve been riding for hours now, and don’t know where you are. Is this… Land’s End?
12. Numb bum is a recognised medical condition. It is cured by hot baths, wine and chocolate. Honest.
13. The burger you grab after the ride from the van next to your lorry is the best thing you’ve ever tasted.
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14. You love sponsored rides. So – when’s the next one?