The Golden Horseshoe ride, held annually in Exford, Somerset, in the very heart of the Exmoor National Park, is the UK’s oldest competitive endurance ride. The first Golden Horseshoe, sponsored by the Telegraph, was organised on Exmoor in 1965 and then in subsequent years at different venues throughout the country, before returning permanently to Exford in 1974. Over the years Horseshoe has increased in stature to become one of the ultimate ‘bucket-list’ endurance rides and it gives a welcome pre-season boost to inhabitants of the National Park who earn their living from tourism.
Historically the ride has been the preserve of the top echelon of competitive endurance riding, requiring a very fit horse and an experienced rider to cope with a ride often made more challenging by the weather. In recent years out-going Ride Organiser, Barbara Wigley, has worked hard to broaden the ride’s appeal, particularly to non-endurance riders and grass-roots members of endurance’s governing body, Endurance GB. This has been done with the introduction of a non-competitive pleasure ride which, in recent years, has been a sell-out and the Exmoor Experience two-day event which gives riders at lower levels the chance to participate and sample “Horseshoe country”.
The Golden Horseshoe celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015 but with ride manager Barbara Wigley stepping down and no new organiser found, the future of the ride looked in serious doubt and it did not run in 2016. However In the nick of time Jo and Andrew Chisholm of Watervale Endurance, from Lydford, Devon, came forward to take on the mantle and restore this ‘must-do’ ride to its rightful place in the endurance calendar. The Chisholms are passionate about the sport of competitive endurance riding and have been competing at Horseshoe since the 1980s. Both Jo and Andrew are active within Endurance GB at local and national level however as Jo Chisholm says “We appreciate the size of the task we have undertaken, but felt we owed it to the sport of endurance to keep this wonderful ride going, given that we’ve had so much enjoyment from it over the years. With our other EGB duties locally and nationally, full time work and looking after, training and competing our own horses, we will be kept fairly busy over the months leading up to the Horseshoe!
The Golden Horseshoe ride currently offers broad-based appeal to riders due to its wide range of classes as well as significant advertising and sponsorship opportunities due to its multi-day duration and its location in the prime tourist setting of the beautiful Exmoor National Park. please see www.endurancegb.co.uk for details or google ‘Golden Horseshoe ‘