I hope this section will answer questions about the Ride and that you may want to help.
I will be 65 in January 2013 and able to claim some pension - so the start date for the Ride is May 2013.
I grew up on the northern edge of London, had riding lessons as a child and rode on holiday on the Norfolk coast. In 1970 I started working for Unicef, the United Nations Childrens Fund, and in 1976 was posted to New Delhi. I joined the riding club, had two horses and rode every day I could for six years. We came back to England and my riding stopped. Then in the 1990s my daily commute over Cleeve Hill and along the foot of the Cotswolds from Cheltenham to Broadway tempted me back onto a horse as the best way to be out in this countryside. I volunteered as a British Horse Society Access and Bridleways Officer and was caught up in the BHS long distance riding route project for the Sabrina Way.I was at the opening when HRH The Princess Royal cut the ribbon and rode several miles of the new route.
The idea of riding long distances mesmerised me.
In 2002 I bought a horse, Tommy (8 year old 16.2hh IDxTB) and as a happy hacker rode two, three, four or five hours whenever I could. The Sabrina Way needed waymarking which took me over to the Malverns and back. My mother (who had lived in a world with horses till 1939 and the war) wanted to see Tommy which took me up to Leicestershire; Christmas at my wife’s parents in Dorset gave me an excuse for a longer hack of 125 miles down to them in December 2005.www.thelongridersguild.com. Sadly, time and money eventually ruled out continuing to have my own horse and I have shared, riding other people's horses, since 2006 getting enough hacking to keep me ticking over and planning! In Spring 2012 I will buy the horse for the Ride Round England.That made me dream of doing much more! The Long Riders Guild website provided hours of reading and fascination,
How will I do this Ride?
It is a long ride. As I write this in November 2010, my estimate is it will be over 2,500 miles and will take six or more months. As the detail of the route is worked out the distance will become more definite but it will go on changing as all the overnight accommodation is found and agreed and as I learn of better alternatives to bits of the route I have chosen, or “must visit” places are added to the journey. I want to do the ride in the following way:
- I ride, or walk and lead, the whole way including the boring or difficult bits. There is no loading up into a lorry for a section.
- I and the horse stay at the same place at night, or close enough for me to walk between the two.
- I carry what I need and buy locally when I need, with a few exceptions:
- Maps: the ride will involve well over 100 Ordnance Survey Explorer 1:25,000 maps which will be marked up before I start. I cannot carry more than a fraction of that number (even when I have cut off the bits I dont want) so I will travel with enough for 10 to 14 days. Before the start I will post maps to await my arrival and post the used ones home.
- Feed: It will be best for the horse if he has the same sort of feed through the journey. I plan to arrange for feed to be available everywhere I stay. I will carry one or two days ration for him in case of emergency.
- Something that must be replaced and is not available locally will be got by mail order and couriered if necessary.
- We, me and the horse, travel whatever the weather unless conditions are actually dangerous.
- The welfare of the horse is paramount and any of the above will be ditched if that is necessary for him.
The Week’s Ride:
In a normal week, I plan to do 125 miles, riding five days and taking two days off. Distances, conditions or locations may alter that and in the autumn shorter days and poor riding condiitons may reduce the average distance. Hilly terrain, poor tracks, very bad weather and complicated map reading all may reduce distances. Lots of stops for events or way points will also reduce the daily distance, so going through London will definitely not see a high daily mileage. I am allowing for a number of breaks of a week and one of a couple of weeks. These may be taken up as rest time, or the days may be used for recovery from injury (mine or his!), waiting for better weather, waiting for the farrier or any one of innumerable possible events. If something serious happens I will take a longer break if needed. The “schedule” is certainly not a fixed one!
The Day’s Ride:
The aim is to average 25 miles. It will vary between countryside and town but my normal plan will be to set off around 8.00 am and follow a pattern of about 75 minutes riding then 15 minutes walking and leading with a bit of grazing, and maybe a muesli bar and some water for me, and repeat that pattern through the day. At lunchtime we will take a break of up to an hour for a longer graze, a drink, my lunch and, in autumn, possibly a small feed. That pattern gives his back a rest and me a chance to loosen up my hips, knees and ankles. Steep terrain, poor track surfaces, difficult conditions are all going to have me dismounted and leading. We should finish the day by 4.00 pm without having to hurry. Food, fitness and rest are important. Both I and the horse are more likely to make mistakes if we are hungry, dehydrated, anxious or tired. Distances may be shorter in autumn.
I will carry contact details for vets, farriers and any other relevant people, e.g. National Trail Rangers, for each day. I will have local contacts who can help in a serious problem.
I am doing this to raise LOTS of money so I plan a daily blog with words and pictures. There will be video material going onto the web and I will use Twitter, Facebook and whatever else has been invented by 2013. I aim to get into press and broadcast media both locally and nationally throughout the ride and from months – years - before it starts. The riding will need steady effort. The daily information and story activity will need a lot more. At the four corners of England, at each of the cathedrals and at points in between I want to meet friends and supporters. These will be good moments for publicity and fundraising “noise”. Go to Get Involved for more on this.
Supporting the Ride?
I need support to do the ride. My current estimate is that the whole project would cost around £65,000 if I had to pay for everything. That includes the purchase of the horse, all his tack, 12 months keep etc while we train together, all the B&B cost, the maps, the website, all the admin and legal costs, printing, feed, farriery, phone and so on..... and on. I am paying for some of this – several hundred £££ on maps and more than that on legal advice etc so far. I am looking for supporters who can provide things for free, or at a good discount, and for supporters who can help with cash for a lot that will need to be paid for. I have set up a company limited by guarantee, A Ride Round England Ltd, to receive (and account for) all support money and items. If there are any funds left when the Company is wound up they will be donated to charity. See the Getting Involved section.