Eventer Mary King has proved herself to be a natural at another horsesport — endurance riding.

Mary chose the tough terrain of Exmoor for her debut, after accepting an invitation to negotiate the first 40k (25 miles) of an 80k (50 miles) competition in the famous Golden Horseshoe Ride on Sunday (15 May).

And she completed at 12.8kph, fast enough to be listed among the possibles for a Gold award had she completed the second day at a similar speed with her horse clear of veterinary penalties.

Mary was riding Mellow Jazz, a 15hh Arab gelding who in 2004 competed on a British team in France and owned by Karen Jones from Culmstock, Devon. “He was wonderful out on the moor, very tough and so nimble,” Mary said afterwards.

“I am always keen to try something new and having watched the endurance competitors at the World Championships last year I jumped at the chance to try it myself.

“The preparation was impressive. The owners and riders are so dedicated, and the vetting was an education.

“Riding with my stirrups so long was strange, but I think I was fit enough. I’ll know tomorrow morning!”

And she added “I would love to come back and try it again — as long as I can ride Jazz, of course”

Mary was escorted over the Exmoor course by endurance Young Rider champion Abby Chisholm, 15, from Lydford on nearby Dartmoor.

“Riding with Mary was a dream come true,” she said. “She is very competitive!”

Mary jumped from the saddle and minutes later was dashing away for a journey to France for a three-star horse trial at Saumur