The summer months are the ideal time for you and your horse to explore uncharted territory and enjoy new experiences together. Luckily, in Britain we’re never too far from good off-road riding, particularly if you’re prepared to box your horse and travel a few miles.
The more adventurous can head off into the wilderness of Exmoor, or to remote areas of the Pennines. For gentler hacking, there are many bridleways in the Home Counties, or you can head east and ride alongthe straightforward, well-mapped terrain of the Peddars Way in Norfolk.
Providing you plan your route carefully, accommodation is rarely a problem, as there are plenty of B&Bs en route that offer stabling or grazing. There are also many enjoyable trails that can be completed in one day.
Most long-distance routes, such as the South Downs, Swan’s Way or Sabrina Way, are linear – in other words, you start and finish at different points so you would need to organise return transportfrom your final destination.
Many seasoned, long-distance riders will take along a back-up crew of family and friends, who meet them at each stopping-off point with feed and overnight luggage.
If this is not a viable option, don’t worry, as there are circular routes all over the UK. In these instances, you can simply arrange to park your trailer or horsebox in a safe place at the start/finish point.
To make such a journey easier, you can even visit all the stopping points beforehand and drop off any essentials, such as hard feed for your horse or a change of clothing.
Be safe, not sorry
Before setting off, there are a few precautions all sensible riders should take:
- Make sure you always tell somebody the way you are going and approximately how long you will be
- Take a mobile phone (on your person, not attached to the horse) and a small, basic first aid kit
- Always carry a detailed, large-scale map (at a scale of 1:25,000), even if the ride is waymarked or you already have information about the route
- Make sure you and your horse are fit enough for your chosen ride
- Take plenty of water and some food
- Allow your horse to drink at every opportunity and consider carrying a collapsible bucket in case there is limited access to rivers or streams
- Check weather forecasts before you leave and keep up to date with changes in the weather by ringing National Weathercall (tel: 0870 600 4234)
- Never be tempted to veer from the designated route
- Make sure your tack is in good repair and carry a lead rope and hoof pick
- Wear high-visibility clothing
- Carry some form of identification in case of emergencies
- Take a list of emergency phone numbers, such as local vets and farriers
For your copy ofthe 10 Great British Rides supplement, check out the Summer issue of HORSE magazine, OUT NOW.
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