A Horse & Hound team will be taking part in the Golden Horseshoe this year — in which is likely to be the final time the ride takes place.
The 2015 Golden Horseshoe (17-19 May) will be the 50th incarnation of the ride, but is likely to be the last on Exmoor as no one has stepped in to take over from the retiring organiser.
Ride organiser Barbara Wigley, 67, has been involved in the ride for more than 30 years and running it since 2007, but is stopping this year. The rest of her six-strong committee have said they are also giving up.
Showing, vet and point-to-point editor Aimi Clark, designer Emily Secrett, digital sub editor Rachael Hook and print sub editor Polly Bryan will be taking on the 23km pleasure ride challenge on Sunday 19 May.
Aimi will be riding her sister’s eventer, while the other three will be competing on borrowed horses.
“I’ve lived in Devon since I was 10 and always thought I should give the Golden Horseshoe a go, as it’s such a big deal and so close to home, but never have,” said Aimi.
“I’ve never competed in endurance before, bar fun rides organised by hunts and riding clubs, so this seemed a great opportunity to tick two boxes.
“I evented/Pony Clubbed a lot in the past, but I don’t ride competitively as much these days, so it will be nice to get out into an exciting horsey environment again and be in the saddle, rather than just holding a notebook and pen like I usually do.
Rachael added: “My endurance experience is limited — I’ve ridden cross-country rides of about 10 miles in the past, but I’ve always been more focused on the jumps than the time I get round.
“I’m fairly fit from running — I’m doing the Edinburgh marathon at the end of May — so hopefully that should help on the day. I’m feeling less than confident about orienteering — I usually follow a sat-nav…”
The team will be covering 23km, with an optimum average speed of 10/11kmph. They are likely to complete in around two and a quarter hours.
When they arrive at the finish their scores will be calculated via the horse’s heart rates and the time they complete in. The three best scores will be used for the competition. All pulses must be under 64.
“I used to work on a trekking yard on Exmoor so am excited to do the ride for the beautiful countryside,” said Emily, who has taken part in Endurance GB pleasure and graded rides in the past.
While Polly added: “For me it’s mainly a chance to get out of London and ride in beautiful surroundings. I’ve never done any kind of long-distance riding or anything, although I did once work on a trekking centre on Dartmoor so it will be nice to get a taste of that again, albeit needing to be a bit fitter!”