The infamous Golden Horseshoe endurance ride is to change venue for the first time in more than 15 years, moving from the village of Exford to Dunster, 12 miles away.

Ride organiser Martin Pickard said: “We have always been made very welcome at Exford and it provides a unique atmosphere. But the ride has outgrown the facilities available and the logistics were getting more and more complicated.

John Hudson, chairman of Endurance GB (EGB), said: “We felt it was time for a change of venue. It’s increasingly difficult for health and safety because the venue is small and space is cramped.”

The new venue, on the outskirts of Dunster, allows facilities such as stabling, camping and lorry parking on one site. Organisers looked at several alternatives, with criteria including shelter from the unpredictable Exmoor weather, accommodation and good access.

Chairman of EGB’s rides committee Margaret McKiddie, who has competed in the Golden Horseshoe nine times, said: “The atmosphere at Exford was great – it is a social event as well as a ride. InDunster it will be different but will hopefully be equally successful.”

The ride itself will follow part of the same route as before, although the comparatively gentle climb to the moor from Dunster – in contrast to the steep road route up from Exford – will make for a less severe start.

The Golden Horseshoe is traditionally held on a Monday and Tuesday, but this year the ride will take place on weekend, a change that organisers hope will make it easier to recruit volunteers as well as easing traffic congestion. There will be no international three-star FEI race ride in 2003.

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