“The weather was perfect, the organisation super-efficient, the riding was outstanding, the scenery was magnificent, the rosettes were lovely - we couldn't have asked for more!” read one of the emails received by BHS Bedfordshire after the sponsored ride at Southill Park, near Bedford, in October.
Another rider wrote “Many thanks to all the organisers, stewards and landowners for today's fabulous ride. Best we have ever done and we hope to be back next time!”
The ride offered a choice of 5, 10 or 15 miles around the splendid Southill Park Estate, home of Charles Whitbread and family. It provided an unrivalled opportunity to ride on a mix of parkland, field headlands and estate tracks, with road work kept to the minimum. The 5 mile route was entirely within the home estate so involved no public roads at all. There were lots of chances for canters and even gallops – including a final charge up the hill towards the house which was enjoyed by all 160 horses and riders!
Organiser, Ann Kennedy (and BHS regional Chairman), says ‘It’s so rewarding to get great messages like these as well as raising over £7,000 for East Anglia Air Ambulance and for The British Horse Society locally.”
“I got the chance to ride myself this year, having organised the ride three times – it was such fun and I am not at all surprised that we have so many riders coming back each time. Of course, the event is entirely dependent on the generosity of the Whitbreads for allowing us to ride here and on the dedication and support of a large number of helpers and stewards – there were nearly 30 involved this time.”
The ride is held bi-annually to raise money for East Anglian Air Ambulance and BHS Bedfordshire. Paul Airton, Bedfordshire’s fundraiser for EAAA says “Not many people realise that the Air Ambulance service relies entirely on donations from the public – fund-raising events such as this help us to keep our service flying and helping everyone who needs us, not just fallen horse-riders – though we do see quite a few of those!”
Sue Short, Chairman of BHS Bedfordshire, says “A large part of the money raised for BHS will be used to continue our programme of pony days for disadvantaged children in the county. The rest will support our work in improving equine welfare, safe riding on the roads and local access to bridleways”.
Although this ride takes place only every other year, BHS Bedfordshire organises pleasure rides every year – and other events too. If you’d like to join the emailing list send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.