Everything you need to know before you apply
Now you’ve read about our Challenge Rides, you’re probably desperate to go on one. You'll receive a detailed information pack when you apply but here we're going to cover the basics.
These are a selection of the questions we are most often asked about our Challenge Rides. Hopefully, these will provide you with all the information you require, but if not, please do not hesitate to contact us. Wendy Minor is our Challenge Ride Organiser and she is in the BHS Welfare office on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or 02476 840572.
Who can go on a Challenge Ride?
Almost anyone! The most important thing is that you have a sense of adventure and are looking for the experience of a lifetime, the chance to ride through some amazing and unusual landscapes, and an opportunity to make new friends.
Are there any age restrictions on who can participate?
Unfortunately we can’t take anyone under the age of 18 on a Challenge Ride. There is no real upper age limit, although if you are over 60 we do need evidence from your doctor that you are fit and able to participate in the Challenge. If you fall into this category, then give Wendy a call and she will talk you through the demands of the ride you are interested in so that you can discuss this with your doctor. We get a real mixture of people of all ages on our rides, so however old you are there will be someone of a similar age also on the ride.
Can I come alone on a Challenge Ride?
Absolutely yes! In fact, most people travel alone but end up with new lifelong friends by the end of the trip. There are many opportunities to socialise and get to know each other, so even the shyest person will get the chance to come out of their shell.
Of course, if you want to come with a partner or friend(s) then that’s no problem at all and we will do everything we can to make sure you share one of the greatest experiences of your lives.
Will I get to meet my fellow Challengers before the ride?
A couple of months before you depart we will invite you to BHS Headquarters for lunch and an in-depth briefing about the ride and what you can expect. This will give you the chance to meet the other participants, as well as learning more about what you are letting yourself in for!
Attendance at these sessions is not compulsory – perhaps you have work commitments or it may be too far for you to travel. If you can’t make it, that’s no problem, but we do try and encourage people to come along if they can.
How fit will I need to be?
The rides are called challenges for a reason! So you will need to be fairly fit – and the fitter you are, the more you will get out of the ride, That said, you don’t need to be a marathon runner to be able to take part and you will have plenty of time to get fit in the gap between registering and actually setting off on your ride. You could even tie in getting fit with your fundraising, by undertaking sponsored runs, or bicycle rides for instance.
You will be spending a lot of time in the saddle and this is hard work, so you will need to increase your riding time before departure. We have had hundreds of riders successfully complete and, more importantly, enjoy the rides – which just goes to show that anyone can do it if they really want to.
Of course, the BHS will support you throughout your fitness regime and we will provide you with training advice to help you along the way. We do have to be quite strict about weight limits for each ride however, and Wendy can provide you with more detail about these.
How good a rider do I need to be?
The most important thing is that you are a safe and competent rider. You don’t have to be technically brilliant or able to ride around Badminton – most of our participants are hobby riders who perhaps just ride once or twice a week if they don’t have their own horses.
You need to have a safe, secure and balanced seat in all paces and be confident at riding at speed. There is no jumping involved during any of our rides and certainly no need to be getting your horse working in an outline or worrying about being “on the bit”.
You will be riding for long periods of time so, for the horse’s sake, it really is essential that you have good balance and stability in all paces – for example, it wouldn’t be fair on the horse to have someone hanging on to his mouth for six hours a day. If you are in any doubt about your ability, give Wendy a call. We often suggest that potential participants have their riding assessed by a BHS Registered Instructor if they have any concerns as to their suitability for a ride.
What are the horses like?
All the horses we use are selected on the basis of their behaviour, training and nature – we take great care to choose only the best horses and to match riders to the most suitable horse for them. Of course, horses are unpredictable animals and participants need to be aware of that – no-one can guarantee that a horse will behave impeccably, but we do everything we can to ensure you have the best experience possible.
It is important that potential participants remember standards will be different in different countries – for instance with regard to tack. However, even if the tack is not what you are used to, everything will be in good condition and completely safe. As you would expect, the welfare of both horse and rider is our uppermost priority.
What is included in the cost of a Challenge Ride?
The cost of each Challenge Ride varies with the destination (see the individual ride pages for more details). However, in all cases the cost includes scheduled return flights and all accommodation, food, water, fruit and refreshments throughout the trip. It also includes all ground and baggage transfers, back-up support vehicles, medical back-up and guides and, of course, horses! The only things you need to budget for outside the basic cost are insurance, souvenirs and any optional tours you wish to undertake.
A donation to the work of BHS Welfare is included in the cost – this is why you can raise sponsorship to fund your trip. The exact amount donated to the BHS varies with the destination, but it is a substantial proportion of the cost in all cases. The money raised through our Challenge Rides is absolutely essential to fund the vital welfare work that we do, and every participant that takes part in a ride is helping improve the lives of countless horses and ponies in the UK.
Please add airport tax for all rides, except Iceland, where it is not included.
How will the money I raise be spent?
Many people forget, or simply don’t realise, that the BHS is a charity and works tirelessly in the fields of access, safety and horse welfare. Every penny raised by Challenge Riders is ring-fenced to be spent on the Society’s welfare work.
A browse through the horse care pages of this website will give you a good idea of the type of work BHS Welfare is involved in. Your sponsorship money will be spent on projects such as funding our network of more than 180 welfare officers who respond to reports of poor equine welfare throughout the UK. It will also be spent on campaigns to improve the lot of British horses – for example, we are working hard with the Animal Health Trust to combat the awful disease Strangles by raising money for a safe and effective vaccine against this potentially fatal condition. We are constantly working to change the law to protect horses and riders and to educate those who perhaps don’t keep their horses in a state that we would like.
One of our most successful campaigns in recent years has been our Castration Clinics appeal. This campaign has helped hundreds of horse owners all over the UK, and has been essential in managing the UK's overbreeding problem.
What the BHS has achieved with regard to Ragwort is well recognised, but there is still much work to do in this area. We are also busy campaigning against indiscriminate breeding and there is lots of information about that on this website.
The list of what we do is almost endless – and you can rest assured that by participating in a Challenge Ride you are raising money that will be spent carefully and used directly to prevent equine suffering.
We can provide you with information about what we do to assist you in your fundraising.
How do I get sponsorship?
There are many different things you can do to raise the money you need for a Challenge Ride. All you need is a little dedication and imagination!
Car boot sales, cake sales, sponsored events – the list of potential ideas is almost endless. Previous participants have done things as diverse as making and selling their own gift wrap and offering their tack cleaning services for a small fee.
You will receive tips on fundraising and ideas on how to put together your own personalised strategy when you sign up to a ride. Fundraising is not as difficult as you think, but you need to be positive, imaginative and determined. You will receive plenty of support and the opportunity to meet with other participants to exchange fundraising ideas.
A great way to fundraise is online using JustGiving. Once all payments for flights and tour costs have been met, any further donations can be made on JustGiving, and Gift Aid applied. Make your own page - it's easy and you can invite all your friends and family to help you reach your donation target online.
Do I need any special kit?
This really depends on which Challenge you take part in but you will not need to spend a fortune on specialist kit items. We will provide you with a list of suggestions when you sign up for a ride. However, one thing we recommend in all cases is a seat saver for your saddle!
What sort of accommodation and food will be provided?
As you might expect on a Challenge Ride, accommodation will be basic but comfortable – there are no five star hotels at the top of the Andes! You will need to bring your own sleeping bag. We will make sure it follows you around in one of the support vehicles. Food will be wholesome and plentiful. Vegetarians and special dietary needs can be catered for as long as we are aware of requirements in advance of the ride.
What sort of insurance do I need?
You will need to supply your own adequate insurance cover, which includes emergency medical evacuation and personal liability. We will need to see proof of your insurance 10 weeks before the event. Travel Insurance is available through our tour company if you don’t already have adequate cover and Wendy can help you arrange this.
Do I require any special vaccinations?
You will need to check with your GP that you are up-to-date with routine vaccinations such as typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and polio. It is important to explain to your doctor what you will be doing and where you will be travelling. You will be drinking bottled/boiled water throughout the trip and Wendy can provide details of vaccination requirements for individual trips.
How do I take part in the Challenge?
Complete the application form and send it to The British Horse Society with your non-refundable registration fee as soon as possible. You will then receive confirmation of your booking, further details about the event, sponsorship forms, fundraising and training information and regular updates and support.
What are you waiting for?!