The aim of the Cornwall BHS Pleasure Ride was for the maximum number of people and horses to enjoy a day in a wonderful place and raise money for Grass Sickness research and BHS Cornwall funds. We certainly succeeded, and will make a substantial donation.
Caerhays is set in Goran with steep rolling hills and a spectacular coast line. It is a private estate owned by the Williams family who kindly leant their support to the ride.
Some of the older readers may remember the iconic Hitchcock film Rebecca, based on the novel by Daphne Du Maurier. This was filmed at Caerhays with wonderful scenes on the beach and a memorable one, of the Castle 'burning' down. Riders and their connections were able to experience this spectacular location for themselves.
There is a lot of work that goes into organising a ride and making it a success; also a lot of luck with the weather. Setting the ride up was done by Arthur Broome, Harold Semmens, Julie Rogers and Tamsin Banks. Backs were aching from bouncing around on the back of a quad in heavy rain and thick fog the Sunday before the ride. A good imagination was needed to guess what the view would be.
Arthur, Harold and the other farmers kindly moved their stock around so that gates could be left open and riders would not need to get on and off. Julie made sure that the other farmers whose land we crossed were on board and without exception they all agreed. We really owe them a debt for this.
Jo Batty Smith took all the entries, did the times, accommodated people’s wishes and last minute changes, and fielded any queries. Initially entries trickled in and this was not too onerous, but in the final two weeks, her phone was red hot. We were oversubscribed and had limited the ride to 100. In the end we had 107 riders, but still had to turn people away who did not get their entries in early - the moral being if you want to go on next year’s ride, get your entry in early!
On the day the weather was perfect, sunshine, but not too hot. There was a relaxed and happy atmosphere with riders of all ages and abilities. One rider had been very worried, having never cantered her mare outside a sand school. She paired up with two other people and when she came back elated, she announced that she was going to take up endurance riding and do more of these rides as well. Children started on lead reins and came back off them. People learned to ride across different terrains, and to 'read' the land, though one little boy did investigate a boggy area with his once white pony. This is one of the BHS objectives of fulfilling your passion for horses, and developing the potential of the horse and rider. A few riders developed a secure lower leg, cantering down some very steep hills.
Will we do it again? Yes, we will - either at the same venue or a different one next year. All the work was worth it to see the happy smiling faces, both equine and human coming down the hill through the park at the end of the ride, and collecting their smart rosettes.
Once again thanks to all the land owners and farmers and helpers who helped on the day: Julie, Harold, Arthur, Jo, Anne R, Anne H, David, Leah, Abi, Clive, Lesley, Bettina, Mary, Jody, Angie and Sharon.
If you would like to volunteer for the BHS, please leave a message on the British Horse Society Cornwall Facebook page or contact Tamsin (07899 991368).
Photographs of the ride can be viewed at sharonrandallphotography.co.uk/collections (enter password Horses451).