Ride Round England 16 April 2013
Newsletter No. 3:
24 DAYS TILL STRIDER AND I SET OFF! And 5 weeks till we go through Coventry
Remember: The aim is to raise £250,000 for the Family Holiday Association and Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre. Feel free to go straight to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=rideroundengland and get out your plastic, or tell someone else about it ....................
Thankyou to several more people who have offered us accommodation, and to all those who have confirmed that their dates are OK on the list for the whole journey. If you have been sent that list and have not replied yet, could you please?
Cathedral Visits: Dates and times have been confirmed by the cathedrals for:
Gloucester Monday 13 May at 10.00am
Hereford, Wednesday 15 May at 10.00am
Worcester, Thursday 16 May at 2.00pm
Coventry, Tuesday 21 May at 12.30pm
Chester, Wednesday 29 May at 12 noon.
Sheffield, Wednesday 5 June at 11.00am
I expect to hear from Lichfield early next week and hope it will be Thursday 23 May at 10.30. I will confirm that when I know.
If you can come along to any of the cathedral, please do. And tell your friends.
If you could help look after Strider at any of them, then let me know!
Why mention Coventry at the top of this page? Because it looks like the “biggest” day in the first month or two with three visits to make. Strider and I start from near Long Itchington with a ride up to the British Horse Society Head Office at Stoneleigh. Then it is on into Coventry, most of which looks absolutely fine but it includes getting across the A45 and the Ringway going in and going back out. Those roundabouts will be fine when we get there but on the map they look, well, they look! We visit the cathedral which will be amazing to reach. Then we go out again via a visit to the Coventry offices of TUI UK and Ireland which is an amalgamation of Thomson and First Choice. After that its just a few miles to our stop for the night and a well earned (I suggest) rest.
Full Load Practice (we have gone out with lots of stuff but not yet the “lot”) is needed so I am packing the bags for real – which is interesting as I keep on looking for things and then realising they are packed – and will hack out with it all on over the next couple of days to check it and get ready for a 4-day hack Monday to Thursday next week. We will go west and over the Malverns to stay at Mathon, with a night each way at Town Street Farm, just across the Severn, where I stayed all those years ago when I did my first long hack with Tommy. Yippee! Then the following Sunday/Monday up to Mickleton and call at The Little Soap Company to collect my travel soap for the trip, and see Emma.
Health Checks etc over the next three weeks include: His dentist, flu jab and a chat to the vet, Bowen session and farrier.
Strider’s Welfare: I was asked about welfare by TUI UK and Ireland. It is a good question to raise and meant I sat down to write a lot of stuff all in the same place. Afterwards I realised I had left out that I bought Strider specifically for the ride and his vetting was done with this in mind. Anyway, here is what I wrote:
“Thankyou for raising this. It is important and it is not an issue on which you can automatically expect a rider to be behaving appropriately. I will respond on two aspects to the welfare question:
Firstly, Ethical: With regard to the general obligation to behave ethically in the use of an animal: I am supported by both the Long Riders Guild and the British Horse Society.
• The LRG is the pre-eminent international organisation concerned with long rides, see www.thelongridersguild.com. Their attitude to those who do not put honesty and the welfare of the horse at the top of their list is indicated at http://www.thelongridersguild.com/shame.htm and at http://www.thelongridersguild.com/mongolia.htm The LRG has a link to my website from their Planned Expeditions page.
• The BHS is this country's chief equestrian welfare organisation, www.bhs.org.uk. They are supporting the ride and have circulated details to all their Access and Bridleway Officers, Bridleway Associations and Riding Clubs asking for help with route checking and accommodation; included an article about the ride in a recent edition of their magazine British Horse which goes to all members and sent details out to members on their e-news letter for the South West. I am a BHS member and was for 10 years on the Gloucestershire County Committee. On the morning of 21 May Strider and I will visit their headquarters at Stoneleigh south of Coventry before coming into the city to the Cathedral and on to TUI.
Secondly, Practical: I will not cover 2,500 miles over a seven month period with one horse if I do not put the welfare of Strider at the top of my agenda.
• I will be checking him all over each morning, evening and at lunchtime to see that he does not have any injury or minor problem that could get worse.
• The pattern of weekly riding is based on the LRG advice of five days ridden and two rest days. In addition some longer periods of rest are written into the plan, some extra rest days have been put in where a "hard" day is anticipated and I have reduced average daily distances over the last couple of months when we will be into tougher weather.
• Most places we are staying have experienced equestians and many have staff with significant, recognised, qualifications who can advise or assist with anything that needs attention.
• I have made it clear on my website and in writing elsewhere that, if the welfare of Strider requires it, then the plan goes straight out of the window.
• Feed is a key issue for his retaining good condition. I am working with Simple System Ltd to get him consistent feed in the right quantities all the way round. Horses are trickle eaters so we will have ten minutes or so grazing time in every two hours and some hard feed for him at a lunchtime break.
• His saddle is vital to his welfare and I have bought one which firstly distributes my weight over a large area very evenly and secondly can be adjusted to his changing shape as we make the ride. The suppliers, The Saddle Exchange Co, will be meeting me at points along the ride to check and adjust the saddle.
• Good farriery is vital to a horse. My farrier will meet me at a number of locations for shoeing and the Worshipful Company of Farriers has found eight of its members who have volunteered to shoe Strider when we go through their areas. We are working on a pattern of shoeing every three ridden weeks.
• Total weight carried is identified as a key issue by the LRG. Roughly speaking you can load up as much as you like for a few days but not for a long ride. Their rule of thumb is that the load should not exceed 20% of the weight of the horse. Strider is around 625kgs so I have up to 125kgs to play with. I am around 77kgs dressed to ride, the saddle is 13kgs and everything else has to add up to less than 35kgs, or I have to walk and lead for greater distances than the 20 minutes after every 90 minutes that will be routine, and the going up or down very steep, rough or slippery slopes that will also be the norm. I am arranging our accommodation in advance so he can be assured of somewhere suitable for him and his feed can be delivered.
• I have been collecting contact details for vets around the route so in the event of a problem I can get straight onto a vet and will not have to spend time contacting someone else before I can do that.
• I will be carrying a 1st aid kit for Strider donated by my own vet.
• His teeth will have been treated before we set out and will be done again after six months.
• He is currently checked regularly by a Bowen Therapist and he will be checked as we go round.
• I have a worming programme for him and will be supplied with wormer by Wormers Direct Ltd at the times/places required.
• His vaccinations are uptodate and will be kept uptodate.
• Strider and I will both be fully hi-vized in accordance with the Highway Code.
• He is insured and I have public liability insurance for us to a limit of £10m for any one claim and unlimited over the period of the insurance.
• We have spent the last year building fitness and ensuring he is safe with traffic as well as getting our equipment "right", which has not been a cheap exercise for me!
I hope that covers any concerns there may be. After over five years dreaming of making this ride and researching for it, and then working pretty much full time on it for the last 18 months, keeping Strider in good condition to get us both through is at the top of my list.
If you have any questions or would like more information do, please, get back to me.
Do, please, pass this Newsletter on to other people who might be interested, and tell them to email me to be added to the list.
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