The Golden Horseshoe ride, held annually in Exford, Somerset, in the very heart of the Exmoor National Park, is the UK’s oldest competitive endurance ride. The first Golden Horseshoe, sponsored by the Telegraph, was organised on Exmoor in 1965 and then in subsequent years at different venues throughout the country, before returning permanently to Exford in 1974. Over the years Horseshoe has increased in stature to become one of the ultimate ‘bucket-list’ endurance rides and it gives a welcome pre-season boost to inhabitants of the National Park who earn their living from tourism.
Historically the ride has been the preserve of the top echelon of competitive endurance riding, requiring a very fit horse and an experienced rider to cope with a ride often made more challenging by the weather. Over the last 10 years, Ride Organisers Barbara Wigley and then more recently Jo and Andrew Chisholm have worked hard to broaden the ride’s appeal, particularly to non-endurance riders and grass-roots endurance riders. This has been done with the introduction of a non-competitive pleasure ride which, in recent years, has been a sell-out and the Exmoor Experience two-day event which gives riders at lower levels the chance to participate and sample “Horseshoe country”.
The Golden Horseshoe ride currently offers broad-based appeal to riders due to its wide range of classes as well as significant advertising and sponsorship opportunities due to its multi-day duration and its location in the prime tourist setting of the beautiful Exmoor National Park.