Riders face big endurance test 14X6.
The Tanfield endurance pleasure ride was organised last month by the Durham & Teesside Group of Endurance Great Britain (Endurance GB). The 18km ride, at Watergate Forest Park at Lobley Hill, consists of allweather cinder paths which branch out into disused railway lines, bridleways and a small section of woodland through Beamish woods.
A total of 80 riders set out and got a good soaking as it rained all day.
Ride co-ordinator Michael Evans said: "Even though this was the case the horses and riders left the venue with positive minds and when they returned everyone had a great time and lots of fun.
"Overall, it was a very successful day and a great way to start our endurance riding season.
"The key aim to endurance is to complete the course and a reasonable speed and to enjoy the bond between you and your horse in the open countryside.
"Many rides give you the opportunity to ride over land which would not be open to the general public and enjoy some wonderful scenery."
The Durham & Teesside Group's next event is the Durham Valleys Ride tomorrow followed by the Waskerley Ride on May 6. The Endurance GB Northumberland & Tyneside Group's season opener was last month's 16km Harwood Forest Pleasure/Training Ride, which escaped the snow for the first time in more than a decade. Ride organiser Lesley Smith said: "Even with a reputation for arctic conditions this ride is always over-subscribed and this year was no exception.
"Poor ground conditions and logging operations meant I couldn't use some of last year's route. I did eventually find an 8km loop but it was earmarked for imminent 'repairs' which in Forestry Commission terms means spreading tons and tons of stone chip.
"After several phone calls to the Forestry Commission pleading my case, I was able to secure a 'stay of execution' until after the ride."
The Northumberland & Tyneside Group's next scheduled ride is on June 3 at Alwinton at the edge of the Cheviots.
KAREN DENT (0191) 201 6243 firstname.lastname@example.org
SOAKED TO THE BONE Durham and Teesside Group of Endurance GB's Tanfield pleasure ride