Ride Round England 28 March 2013
Newsletter No. 2:
SIX WEEKS TILL STRIDER AND I SET OFF!
And why did I say I would try to get a letter out every 10 to 14 days? Its 29 days since the last one. Its been busy for the Ride and for other bits of life too.
CotswoldRDA on 7 March: Thankyou to 70 or so of you who came that evening. Sorry you had to watch for quite a while as the photographer clicked away at the far end of the school. He did get a good shot that went into the Gloucestershire Echo and they wrote a great article too. I have met several people since who said “Oh, you are the person .....”. As a footnote: Strider and I set off about 9.00pm to hack the 3 miles home. We had white LEDS on his front saddlebags, offside of the saddle and my leg, plus red LEDS on rear bags, sheet tail flap and my leg, and all the reflective hi-vis. There was very little traffic and it treated us with serious respect. He was absolutely steady at a good forward going walk and we were back to the yard by 10.00pm. Here is a link to the Echo article http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/Cheltenham-horse-lover-riding-England-charity/story-18381331-detail/story.html#axzz2OvgLPCVF
And the weather .....: Has not improved so the ground has been slippy and muddy or frozen hard and very slippery. We have done a lot of work on the roads which means we can get good pushing up hill and bracing downhill but it does limit where we go. And, except for in the school ....... can anyone remember what a canter is? Also I find it hard to plan and do 5 hours and more on road in unfriendly conditions, though we have done some 3 hours plus of good work.
A Weekend Away: At the beginning of the month we did a 22 mile hack up to Mickleton via Broadway, which includes going up and down the side of the Cotswolds several times. Almost all on roads and after one bit over very muddy clay I stayed on the roads even when they were not great. On a bit with bends we stayed out from the edge of the road and I held a large red spotted handkerchief out at arms length to give cars a bit of extra warning. I got some nice waves for that and people were mostly really good. We stayed with friends at Mickleton which was lovely and came home a slightly shorter route (one hill cut out), 20 miles, the next day. Good learning: More fitness needed for both of us; lunch bucket when tied to a tree means dont walk round in circles; he needs more feed and a bigger lunch; he needs to be tempted more to drink; I may need to have an earpiece for the phone; I must walk and lead for 15 minutes every hour and a half to ease my joints; I need to dismount and remount more often in odd places; I was wearing enough clothes even with a biting northeast wind! And Nikkithe RugLady’s special “bag” for my trumpet fixed on and travelled perfectly.
Helpful People: Sue Buckley, our Bowen Therapist has continued to be a star, straightening us out and giving more advice than that. Mark Johnson, the farrier, and I have agreed we aim at shoeing every three weeks for the ride and as soon as Mark has confirmed which locations he can do I will get in touch with the other farriers who have volunteered their services and sort out where we meet up. I have had offers of help and accommodation from all round the place, thanks to the BHS, EGB, Pony Club, RDA and Treccies putting the word out.
Finding Accommodation: This is making progess. Several more nights have been fixed and several are “in the pipeline”. We only have one night missing between the start and south of York. That is for just south of Chester. I will send the “plan” out with this Newsletter so you can see what it looks like. Where the “Conf Y/N Prov” column has a N, I am not yet fixed. Suggestions of people or places will be gratefully received.
Sponsorship and Shopping:
The first dose of wormer came from wormers-direct.co.uk and Strider will get it when some grass has grown and the geldings change fields.
SEIB, www.seib.co.uk have sponsored Strider’s insurance for a second year which is a serious chunk of money!
Saddle Exchange Co saddling solutions have got me for FREE a Mattes sheepskin numnah, seat saver, girth cover, browband and noseband cover. And if you can afford to buy that lot, Wow! They are really superb www.saddleexchange.com and www.mattesequestrian.com A huge thankyou to Dean and Gini and to Mattes.
While we have decided to keep Strider in shoes and not go to boots, I am getting some boots for emergency use and a big thankyou to Liz at Hoof Bootique, www.hoofbootique.co.uk for giving me lots of advice and a discount. I hope to meet up with her as I get to the Devon and Cornwall boundary.
Pony Club UK kindly gave me a stand at their National Conference on 6 March which produced a whole lot of interest and offers of help and linking up in different places. Thankyou very much to the Pony Club. It was a very good day for me and the Ride.
Strider’s view If you are not on Twitter, where you can find him @riderndengland, but would like to see his views on things, he now has a Facebook page which gets his Tweets, and other comments on what is happening, see http://www.facebook.com/StriderTheHorseTravellingRoundEngland
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.
Ride Round England 27 February 2013
Newsletter No. 1:
I will try to get a letter out every 10 to 14 days over the next couple of months, and then weekly during the Ride. See below: 7.00pm on Thursday 7 March at Cotswold RDA
The fortnight of snow, and longer of freeze, meant no riding and Strider turned out with his fellow geldings in a large field with plenty of hay and a proper feed each evening. That had a silver lining: the time saved by not riding enabled me to push forward on other things. And it had a downside: We both lost fitness. The last couple of weeks has seen fitness get back up and now we are building for much longer rides. His feed ration has increased and he now gets Simple System Instant Linseed. I am merely eating more ..........
Finding Accommodation: This has been a patchy process, though lots of progress too, and I think my earlier estimate of around 4 hours spent for every place confirmed is proving correct but a lot more has been sorted or is getting sorted. Some offers come out of the blue and others need looking for. I had hoped to spend 4 nights at Ringstead in north Norfolk but they cant fit me in and I was trying to come up with ideas. I remembered my mother, years ago, speaking of a farmer who bred horses not far from where she lived on that coast. A search on “horse breeder” and the village name brought up a name and address and I tried ringing. It was the right person, now aged 84, and he can give me a field for Strider. Now I will find a bed for me and see where I can get some nights for a rest stop.
I have made progress towards filling gaps: NW of Coventry, near Lichfield, up in the Keilder Forest in Northumberland (thankyou a riding lady vicar) and near Bishop Auckland. And I have found places: close to Peterborough, near Oakham, near Prudhoe and close to Alnwick. Someone is looking for somewhere just south of Chester, and Todmorden is sorted after a long search. Some rest days are fixed near Battle in Sussex and I have a number to ring in the middle of Exmoor, plus some on the Ridgeway. Really the key issue is now keeping tabs on everything that needs follow up!
Enough is now in place for the schedule to be set right through to London, and that has confirmed what I hoped: I can plan two weeks rest a few days north of London. We can either get a long break or use some days to catch up and have a shorter break.
Sponsorship and Shopping:
A request to wormers direct for help with a worming programme and supply of wormers along the ride produced an instant and very positive response with a couple of questions and then the necessary programme and promise to send the right products to where Strider and I have got atthe due times: for free! What stars. Thankyou.
And a parcel arrived from V-Bandz with the exercise sheet they have made specially for me. We set off through high summer so it needs to be light weight, and there will be saddlebags and other stuff strapped to his girth so I want a quartersheet so straps can reach the girth. His rear bags will sit on this sheet so needs a numnah for that section. V-Bandz have some extra tough hi-vis mesh and have made me a one-off sheet from it. They sent it without the numnah so I could fit it with the bags, mark up where the numnah was needed and send it back for the additional work. That is done and it looks good.
The Metropolitan Police have offered a mounted escort through London and they will help me review my route to get it as friendly as I can. That is truly fabulous and will make the five days on the road in London a much less stressful period.
The British Horse Society has circulated bridleway groups about the ride which has brought in a pile of offers of help – and sorted some more accommodation.
The Worshipful Company of Farriers has sent details of the ride to its members and I now have 8 offers of free farriery on the ride route. Thankyou
Events, planned and held: For your diary or pinboard: 7.00pm Thursday 7 March at Cotswold RDA. http://www.cotswoldrda.org.uk The Ride Launch we postponed from 24 January. Come and meet Strider; hear about the ride and the preparations; and enjoy a horse agility demonstration by Sheila Reed, http://www.sheilareedequine.com/ . Refreshments available; Entry Free; donations for Cotswold RDA gratefully received.
On 6 February at Pucklechurch I gave a talk to the Veteran Horse, Pony and Riders Club http://www.vhprc.co.uk/ They were a super lot and asked good questions, like “Was I scared?” “Yes”. If you live in the South Glos area and are eligible I suggest you sign up to the club. And it resulted in a £66 donation to the charities. Thankyou!
I had a very good meeting at the RDA national office and they are really spreading the word. More than 10 RDA Groups have been in touch to help with accommodation, route suggestions, plans for talks and so on.
The Pony Club Annual Conference is in Cheltenham on 6 March and I have been given a table there so I can tell people about the ride and look for thir support as well as see how I can help the Clubs
Meanwhile, planning has started for the ride visits to Coventry and Sheffield. Both are cities where the Family Holiday Association has good contacts so schedules need careful working out. Riding a horse all around the middle of a big city needs some thought to avoid backtracking, competing with the big lorries and in Sheffield taking care for trams! And that its only 4 miles to so-and-so suggested by someone who has done it in 14 minutes in the car ..... going slowly ..... translates a bit differently onto horse travel time!
Strider’s view If you are not on Twitter, where you can find him @riderndengland, but would like to see his views on things, he now has a Facebook page which gets his Tweets, see http://www.facebook.com/StriderTheHorseTravellingRoundEngland
Do, please, pass this Newsletter on to other people who might be interested.
The start date, 11 May, is getting closer and there is a huge amount not yet done! Most obviously, when I look at the list, is arranging a lot more accommodation. I need to get as much as I can sorted for the first 1,500 miles; thats up to London, via Chester, Sheffield, Carlisle, Berwick upon Tweed, Durham, south to Peterborough, over to Norwich via the north Norfolk coast and then across to London. Gaps in the first few weeks include: just northwest of Coventry, south of Chester, and near Todmorden. Any suggestions? We need some safe grazing for him and a bed for me.
Meanwhile, he is looking good and here is proof! Smart white blaze down his face after a day presumably doing headstands.
And I have decided to give us the option of putting him into boots, so on 31 December Mark will come to start getting his feet into shape for that possibility and I have had a long chat to Liz Hapgood at Hoof Bootique - what a lovely helpful person!
I had over 2 hours on Strider this morning. It was a bright sunny day and we hacked along quiet roads through three villages. That was high quality time.
All last summer Strider went out with no rug or just his waterproof turnout rug; No flysheet. I wanted to see how he did as next year there is no way we can carry extra rugs. When the flies were bad he had a spray with NAF's Deet Power fly repellent - the stuff in the black spray bottles. He had no problems with flies so Deet looked like a good choice for next year. AND with us having very little space or weight to use for fly stuff, the 200ml bottles looked like just the thing. So I got in touch with NAF and they have come up trumps. The 200ml bottles are in short supply but NAF will give me a big can plus a few of the small bottles that I can refill and use again .............. for FREE.
Brilliant, and one more thing sorted!
Six months is a long time except when: Its been five years getting to it, AND you know what needs to be done in that 181 days.
Every day needs work with Strider, emails and/or phone calls about accommodation along the route, responding to people about this and that, and facebook, twitter or blog done.
Every week needs something done for the fundraising and PR. Just at the moment I need to list names and contact details for 100+, or will that be 200+, people for invites to the Gloucestershire Launch in late January. And every week there should be letters to potential sponsors or equipment suppliers or organisations that can spread the word and support.
Always there are things like getting my brain round the helmet cam that is sitting with its 47 pages of handbook on the diningroom table, or working out what will pack into what dri-sac and then saddlebag and checking how the weight is adding up. And up-dating the maps on paper and digitally as route changes happen and accommodation is sorted.
AND there is always stuff needing typing at my lousy speeds and an ever-growing pile of paper for sorting, filing or binning.
And, do you know, all that has been true in some way or other of every decent sized expedition, project or task ever since ever since. And you just have to get on with it!
So, thankyou to all who have helped and will help with different bits of the Ride and huge thanks to all of you who have pushed the charity total up to almost £19,000. It may sometimes seem as if I am in low ratio four-wheel drive 1st gear in mud BUT it is moving forward and its GOOD.
Got home 10.30 this morning: wet and muddy with wet and muddy tack - again ....... There on the doormat was British Horse, the magazine of the British Horse Society. Get a mug of tea and open it up and THERE WE ARE on page 19, an article explaining what the ride is all about. More than half the page including a photo of Prunella Scales, Strider and me (in a suit and not wet and muddy) taken at the reception given by the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Victoria Borwick, at the Town Hall of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on 27 September. That is great publicity. Thankyou BHS.
And by the way, if you own a horse, or just ride one, BHS Gold Membership with its inclusive public liability insurance is a VERY good deal. That insurance covers me on my 2,500 miles because, as South Essex Insurance Brokers, SEIB, said "It is just a hack". True.
Not far off £19,000! Thats great and THANKYOU to some generous people over the past two months. Finding my 200 nights of accommodation is making slow progress but is progressing - thanks to all those who have agreed, or offered quite out of the blue. Miles and hours are building up with Strider, and the last couple of days we have been able to go out on the common in the mist and adjust to that, as well as to coming back in as it gets dark.
We had a wonderful evening at Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall. It was generously hosted by the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Victoria Borwick, and we were delighted to welcome Joan Laurence who, with her husband, founded the Family Holiday Association. Also there were Prunella Scales, a committed supporter of the FHA and Mark Weston, Director of Access, Safety and Welfare at the British Horse Society. It was a great evening and ended for me back in Gloucestershire turning Strider out into his field at midnight. The first time I have done that with him so late - its magic being out in the countryside at that time of night!