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Reports and Picture gallery >> Archive for 2008 and 2007 >> Golden Horseshoe Ride

Reports and Picture Gallery Archive for 2007

  Golden Horseshoe Ride, 2007, Class Three, The Exmoor Experience, May 13,14 & 15, 2007.

I have always wanted to compete at the Golden Horseshoe on Exmoor . It was the first ever endurance ride in this country, back in the 1960’s.  However, my current horse, Jimmy Mac, is not yet Advanced so it was not possible. This year, however, The Exmoor Experience class was re-introduced and it attracted a field of 37 riders, including the EGB Chairman, John Yeoman. The organisers aimed to make it an ‘achievable challenge’ for everyone – excellent!!  The thought of riding over Exmoor has always appealed to me. We vetted on the afternoon of Sunday 13th May and were very lucky as it had stopped pouring by then! Jimmy was sound with a standing heart rate of 40bpm. All the pleasure riders that morning got soaked! Some of them rode Exmoor ponies!  What kind, lovely faces they have.

We did 40km on Monday 14th May and another 40km on the Tuesday!

Jimmy Mac is now twelve years old and is half Arab, the rest being Cleveland Bay (now, alas, a rare breed) with a bit of Hanoverian. He is just FANTASTIC at his endurance job and we are very proud of him!!!!  We have owned him for four years. 

I was becoming rather concerned in April as regards the going under foot at Exmoor , as it did not rain for ages and the ground was like concrete! We were strongly advised to have our mounts shod with pads, something I had never done before. Luckily the weather broke in May and the going softened and after consultations with excellent farrier, Hilary, we decided upon normal shoeing, for which I was later grateful. I believe pads can be very slippery!!!

Logistics! I towed the trailer, with Edward towing our caravan and on Saturday 12 May we set off bright and early for Exmoor . Including stops every two hours to refresh ourselves and Jimmy Mac, the trip took six hours, after which we set up camp and corral by the banks of the River Exe at a really nice campsite at Westermill Farm, which we thoroughly recommend. A stable was also provided for Jimmy when required.

Day 1.

A lovely cool day with the overnight rain gone, we set off at our appointed time, third in the list, with riders departing at one minute intervals. The new venue starts across a long grassy valley, and riders can be seen for nearly a mile. Pretty soon we are on Exmoor Common, gentle rolling country and great views, Jimmy going really well. Meet Edward at side of short road section, words of encouragement but no crewing yet, too early in the ride. Come across a herd of deer, then into a wooded valley and climb up to CP2. Crew is there and ready to refresh crew and rider and to advise on times. Off again into more woods, zig zagging through, Jimmy going like a train and the course very clearly marked, out onto the moor and down to Dunkery Gate, where Edward is waiting, More sloshing, sugar beet, fruit juice for me and time advice and it’s the run in to the finish. To my great delight am first back. 12.6kph.. The vetting found Jimmy sound and 48bpm – gold medal position! Am I ecstatic or what! Just got to do it again tomorrow.

Day 2.

Same course, but in the opposite direction to day one. Of the 37 starters, only 26 left on day two. We started in reverse order today, so I am 23rd away.  We had a few showers to start with, then it was just fine for riding – cool!!!  Jimmy feels even stronger than yesterday. Same lovely country, with crew Edward still doing his first class job. Looks like we are in contention for gold!  Towards the end Edward meets me wherever possible and updates me on time, his last instruction- “You’ve got a mile and a half to go and 25 minutes left (to get another Gold!). What a feeling! We canter across the fields to the finish and to my delight am again first back. This was the ride of my life! 13.2 kph, Jimmy successfully vetted and heart rate 51. We did it ! One of only two Gold medals from a field of 37, and we had the faster time. Cried with joy whilst being interviewed by the commentator, and looked forward to receiving my medal later that evening.

I walked Jimmy in hand back to our great campsite, with plenty of grass stops en route, and much chattering by me to my excellent steed!!!!  He had a much deserved rest until the following day, when our convoy returned to Wales . Overall a fantastic experience and a ride I thoroughly recommend. It is well worth the travelling to ride in such a beautiful place!

Alex Nicholls

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