South West: Riding on the Moors – press
in Devon and Cornwall we have some of the best
moorland riding in Britain. Not perhaps as
mountainous as Scotland or Wales but tough, rocky
and hilly – just the job for endurance riding.
Every year members of Endurance South West work
hard to put on competitive rides over the moors
and this year, so far, there has been one on Dartmoor
and two on Bodmin Moor with the Camelford Ride
to follow in September.
Organising these rides is not easy. They always
have to take place during the drier (hopefully)
months of the year to keep damage to sensitive
moorland to a minimum. There are very few bridleways
crossing the moors and in Cornwall, every area
of Bodmin Moor has several different owners, different
commoners associations and different concerns to
At the Minions Moorland ride, the route crosses
land belonging to six different landowners. In
addition, the St Cleer Commoners have to give their
permission and Natural England has to be consulted
because of the historical sites and the SSIs in
the West Moor Ride, the landowners won’t
have the Trail Riders Fellowship so the route must
be marked by landrovers which a slow job, whilst
on Dartmoor the route must be marked on foot (all
32 km of it) since the National Park Authority
do not allow any vehicles onto the moor.
Despite this, and the appalling weather so far
this summer, all three rides have been a great
For the second year running, the Minions ride
was just that, a testing ride of endurance in weather
that would keep most other riders indoors with
their horses rugged or stabled. Luckily, endurance
riders and their horses are made of sterner stuff.
“We had a lot of calls the day before to
see if the ride was going ahead,” said Sue
Speed, Ride Organiser.” But the weather here
is so unpredictable that if we had cancelled when
we heard the forecast it might well have been sunny.
Only if the mist had really closed in would the
ride have been called off.”
Seventy riders took part, in classes varying from
32 km to an 80 km ER. Conditions underfoot varied
from very muddy from the constant rain, to stony
tracks and granite outcrops with some energy sapping
canters across squelchy moorland turf.
route took them across the Moor and into Smallacombe
Plantation, through Minions village and around
Caradon Hill, dotted with chimneys and mining remains.
An extra 10 mile loop for the longer classes went
up over Sharp Tor and around Twelve Men’s
Moor, climbing up and over the granite covered
slopes of Kilmar, the most physically testing part
of the ride for the horses.
In the 80 km ER, Somerset rider David Yeoman finished
in first place on Haszar, Jill Semmen on Evermore
Exciting was second, and Tristan Bishop was third
on Dubai Valentino.
David Yeoman well on his way to winning the 80
km ER on Haszar at the Minions Moorland Ride
Photo by Martin Broadfoot
Haszar, an 11-year-old Arab gelding, from Scotland,
obviously loves the south west moors. Two weeks
later at the West Moor Ride, he again won the 80
km ER, but this time on one of the few sunny days
The West Moor ride, like Minions, also has a forestry
section but the going on this part of Bodmin moor
is faster with good going over undulating grassland.This
is always a popular ride, with over 100 competitors
this year and 20 horses and riders entered in the
two 80 km classes.
In the ER, Lesley Dore came second on Firebird,
with Tristram Bishop once again third on Dubai
The Hound Tor Ride from Manaton on Dartmoor was
the first competitive endurance ride to be run
on this side of Dartmoor for 14 years.
Last year Vicky Mosey, a member of Endurance South
West, organised a team of volunteers to mark a
short Training Ride on foot but this year she really
went for it with a full competitive ride.
“It was pretty hard work,” she said. “We
dropped people off at points around the route on
the Saturday to make with ribbons and flags, and
then had to do the same thing all over again after
the ride on Sunday, in reverse.”
riders turned out to ride the route, which went
up past Bowerman’s Nose and Hound Tor
onto Bonehill Down and down and around to the first
checkpoint on Pudsham Down. From here the competitors
headed for Cockingford before climbing steeply
up onto the ridge above Widecombe in the Moor and
riding north across the peaty tracks of the Two
Moors Way over Hamel Down. Leaving Grimspound below
them, they descended slightly to cross the road
before making a loop around Challacombe and returning
to the start via Natsworthy Manor.
Chris Austin on Meg (right) with Dee Wilkinson
on Sunny, taking part in her first competitive
endurance ride at Hound Tor
Photo by Dave Manford
“The views from the ridge were fantastic,” said
Glenda Smith from Altarnun, who was riding in the
65 km class with her 12-year-old daughter, Shannon. “We
could see Princetown in one direction and the sea
in another. Then, on our second circuit, the rain
swept in and we saw nothing but the flags ahead.”
One competitor who was taking part in her first
endurance ride was Chris Austin on Meg, a 15hh
10-year-old coloured cob.
“Meg has done dressage and one-day events
and one training ride but this was our longest
ride to date,” she explained. “I absolutely
love endurance riding and so does Meg. She managed
the wet peaty going very well and was very balanced
and sure footed over the stony parts of the route.
have joined the Endurance South West new Associate
Membership Scheme and intend to do
lots more rides.”
The South West group of Endurance GB is one of
the smallest in the country but thanks to its dedicated
and hardworking Ride Organisers, it also has some
of the very best rides.