The Staffordshire Moorlands Bridleways Association Spring Fun Ride which went from Freehay, through Dimmingsdale Woods was very well attended despite the unsettled weather. The first riders left the start area on the dot at 9:30am. Riders were set off in small groups so that they didn’t overwhelm the area or look intimidating to walkers. This year we had a number of children riding with their parents as well as several older riders, and horses and riders came from as far away as Lichfield and Buxton. All together 60 riders attended.
The weather was changeable as it was raining until about 9:30 when it changed to showers and dry spells. This wasn’t a problem as most of the route was in the woods so no-one got very wet. The showers cleared up about 11:30 and although it was a bit breezy the wind wasn’t very strong.
A few riders and stewards stopped off at the Ramblers Retreat for coffee and cake as it marked the halfway point.
We are very grateful to Staffordshire Police for putting warning signs and flashing lights on the Ashbourne Road, where the route crossed over from the quarry bridleway to dimmingsdale woods, which helped by warning traffic to slow down, making the stewards job much easier than usual.
A few riders had a bit of a worry when they spotted people taking some Llamas or Alpacas for a walk along one of the paths, as they were not sure if their horses had ever seen any before, but fortunately their paths didn’t cross and the horses didn’t seem to notice them.
We are extremely grateful for the use of the Lafarge Tarmac’s weighbridge area to park and use as a base, without which we couldn’t run a ride of this size. A substantial amount of money was raised for the British Horse Society Access Fund which will be used to fight for more safe, off-road routes for horses. This is something which is especially important in the Staffordshire Moorlands which has only 4% of public rights of way available to horse riders, as the national average is 22% this is particularly poor provision. Most riders therefore have to ride on roads in this area, so a day out in Dimmingsdale was a real treat for most riders. The dangers of road riding in areas used by tourists was brought home to us when we were informed of the recent serious injuries caused on Red Road to a horse and rider just a few weeks before which involved the air ambulance taking the rider to hospital.