Enquiries from as far away as Scotland have already been received for this year’s Golden Horseshoe Ride (13 – 15 May).
This year the 47-year-old ride, known as one of the most demanding challenges of the endurance calendar, will start and finish at a new venue and follow a different course. Competitors can enter a two-day 100 mile, 75 mile, 50 mile ride or a one-day 50 mile ride and there will also be a sponsored charity ride.
“The Golden Horseshoe ride has been a part of moorland life and a cornerstone of endurance riding in this country for more than 30 years,” said organiser Mrs Wigley. The 100-mile ride is the centrepiece of the event and draws entries from all over Britain. “A gold award in the 100 mile class is a cherished ambition for many riders, but something which goes only to the very best,” Mrs Wigley added.
The new venue at Church Hill, Exford gives spectators the chance to watch riders negotiate the first and last mile of the course. Competitors will have easier access to the new course, which tracks across the moor to North Hill and then down into the half-way point in front of Dunster Castle. Phase two (day two) takes in forestry tracks over the Brendon Hills.
For riders who are not yet ready to take on the 100-mile challenge, the two-day 75 miles Exmoor Stag offers a more manageable task. The Exmoor Experience, a two-day 50 mile ride has been added into the schedule, giving combinations the experience of a two day ride on Exmoor without having to be at the peak of fitness. “We have introduced the new class, the Exmoor Experience, to give riders a chance to introduce themselves and their horses to a two-day competition over this very demanding terrain before progressing to the longer classes in subsequent years,” Mrs Wigley said.
A 15 mile (25km) sponsored pleasure ride on Sunday, 13 May, in aid of the Moorland Mousie Trust will give local riders the chance to join in the fun.
Horses’ welfare will be paramount throughout the competition. Horses will undergo examinations by veterinary surgeons before and after competing and at the halfway stage, and officials and vets will survey competitors throughout the competition.
“There is always a lot of interest in the Golden Horseshoe. The closing date for entries is not until 1 May, but already there have been enquiries from as far afield as Scotland. The sponsored ride is also going to be well supported by local riders,” Mrs Wigley added.