Exmoor Golden Horseshoe Ride 11th to 13th May 2014
Treefree saddles are proud to sponsor the Exmoor novice ride.
You will also be able to come and meet us at the start for a chat and if you would like try out one of our saddles.
A very brief history of The Golden Horseshoe Ride.
There are records of a few organised ‘Long Distance Rides’ before the second World War – one of which was organised by Country Life and Riding Magazine in 1938.However, this emerging sport appears to have come to a standstill until summer in 1965, when the British Horse Society ran its first Golden Horseshoe Ride on Exmoor, promoted by author Ronald Duncan and Col. Mike Ansell, and sponsored by the Sunday Telegraph. The idea was so popular that organisers had to close entries a month early, having reached the limit of 110 entrants.The route was linear, starting at Malmsmead, and finishing at Mr Duncan’s home in Welcombe, Devon.There were no markers, and riders had to find their own way, including navigating across ‘The Chains’ with the help of several local people riding Exmoor ponies.There was also no minimum speed and one couple were seen to have their own chauffeured car following them on the roads, enabling them to stop for a picnic on the way.At the finish, Glenda Spooner and John Oaksey were waiting to check the horses to ensure that they were in good condition, and all who completed at 6mph or above received a gold-painted horseshoe.
The Golden Horseshoe Ride was born, and organisers and participants agreed that it was a really good test of a horse’s fitness, and rider’s horsemanship. Originally, the event moved to a different location each year, including Brighton and Yorkshire, until 1974 when it returned to Exmoor permanently, and became based in Exford. The ride became more ‘organised’ with routes being marked first of all with painted horseshoes fixed on poles, and later by Jim Collins of the Exmoor National Park Authority with flags made out of fertiliser bags, which ‘marched across the moor’ to give excellent visibility (except for when the Exmoor mist descended!).
Rules also became more stringent, with speeds of 8mph or above required to achieve a Gold award. Vetting procedures also advanced to ensure that the horses were protected from abuse.
Today we have seven competitive classes to choose from, and the ride is a far cry from that first 50 mile competition. Can you imagine going on an Endurance Ride over Exmoor without any markers? Or having a picnic on the way? In 1965 there were also no vets, no RAYNET communications, no St John Ambulance on standby, and certainly none of the amenities that are now taken for granted at any Endurance Ride.
The riders on that first Golden Horseshoe Ride were certainly pioneers in our sport.