Next year, the BHS is offering two new Challenge Rides in addition to its established rides in Peru and Jordan. Riders can now choose to go camel-trekking in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, or horse-riding through rural Hungary.

The four rides cover diverse terrain and demand different rider qualities. The Inca Challenge Ride, following the Inca Trail in Peru, takes place 11-25 June 2004. Riders will be partnered by hardy Andean mountain ponies, and as the terrain is both rough and steep in parts, riders must be physically fit enough to get off and lead their mounts where necessary.

Two new experiences offered for the first time next year are the Camel Challenge and the Hungarian Horse Riding Challenge. The former includes five days riding on camels across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, 9-19 September 2004. The Hungarian ride offers unrestricted riding through rural Hungary from 12-19 September 2004.

The Bedouin Challenge in Jordan gives riders the opportunity to ride Arab horses across desert terrain, camping in Bedouin tents at night. It takes place 20-28 November 2004.

Participating riders are required to pay a registration fee and raise a set amount of money for their trip. This will cover all expenses and include a donation to BHS Welfare. Costs are:

  • Inca Challenge £2,800
  • Hungarian Riding Challenge £1,800
  • Camel Challenge £2,500
  • Bedouin Challenge £1,800

The BHS provides all participants with a fundraising pack. “People do all sorts of things to raise money for their trips,” says Wendy Minor of BHS Welfare, “from sponsored rides to dinners to auctions to car boots.”

Wendy is concerned about increasing competition from other charities offering similar experiences. “It is becoming more and more difficult to attract riders,” she explains, adding that the closure of the BHS rescue centre has negatively affected donations to BHS Welfare. “Of course, our welfare work continues across the country, but it is less immediately visible – when people donated directly to the rescue centre, they could see exactly where their money was going.”

The BHS and associated tour companies ensure the suitability of the mounts prior to the trip. “A lot of the horses we use are hired from local people, and we can’t use them unless they are of a certain standard.” Wendy continues, “So in some cases, not only are the rides providing an extra income for local people, but also educating them about welfare.”

For further information about any of the BHS Challenge Rides, contact Wendy Minor (tel: 01926 707806) or email: w.minor@bhs.org.uk