TAGS:

The horseworld showed its support for Britain’s armed forces on 10 July when riders from all over the country united to raise more than £250,000 for military charity Help for Heroes.

Organisers expect the final total to pass the £300,000 barrier.

On one of the hottest days of the year, 600 people took part in the inaugural eight-mile Horses for Heroes ride that started and finished at Ascot racecourse via Windsor Great Park.

Though organisers had faced controversy over the £100 entry fee (reduced from £175, news, 15 April) required to cover running costs, and failed to meet the target of 2,000 entries, those who took part were full of praise.

“The atmosphere was fantastic. It was the ultimate experience,” said Ele Milwright, whose husband is serving with the RAF in the Gulf, and who produced the following video of her day.

“I have no issue about the entry fee at all. It was a privilege to take part.”

Katrina Clowes, from Somerset added: “I used to be in the military and this was organised with something better than military precision, which is saying something.”

While riders were quick to praise this and the provisions made to cope with the heat — including extra water stops — the event was marred by the death of one horse and the collapse of another.

Kelly Smith, PR manager of organisers HPower, said: “Sadly, a horse was put down after sustaining a fractured skull when rearing up and falling over backwards.”

She added: “In the morning another horse collapsed on the racecourse. The vet came to see it, it got up and was fine.”

Ms Smith said she expected HPower to “just about” cover its costs and would not rule out staging the ride again next year.

“We have to think about costs, but there have been so many positive comments that we are thinking about doing it again — although it’s very early days,” she admitted.

Participants were originally asked to raise £500 sponsorship each, a request that was later revised. In the event, the average amount raised was over £400 per rider.

Surrey-based Karen Charman, who raised £1,000, said: “I’d love to do it again. Being able to ride on the racecourse was fantastic.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (15 July, ’10)