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Long ride or a holiday with your horse?

Whether you are just planning to ride somewhere new for the day or something more adventurous such as a few days away with your horse careful planning is essential. Riding the high fells across ancient routes used by pack ponies can be a wonderful experience and the views superb.

It always pays to thoroughly research your intended route if it is not familiar to you. Planning a route just by consulting a map is not recommended. Local knowledge is always best and any of our committee members will be glad to help or put you in touch with a local rider. Many higher routes especially in the National Park are very challenging and you and your horse may find yourself out of your depth on steep, rocky or boggy ground.

Make sure someone knows your intended route so if you do find yourself in difficulty people know where to look. It is always wise to carry a mobile phone but you may find yourself in an area with no signal. Don't forget to charge your phone before you leave!

It is sensible not to ride alone particularly on a long ride or in an unknown area. In very remote places it may be wise to have contingency plan should an emergency occur and knowledge of basic first aid is recommended.

If you are planning a long ride then you and your mount need to be fit for the ride ahead. Unfit ponies and people make mistakes and you want your trip to be pleasurable not painful. You may find you need to dismount and lead sometimes so wearing comfortable boots you can walk in is a good idea. For higher routes walking boots are recommended. Don't forget your pony's feet. Arrange to have him shod a couple of weeks before you go so his shoes are settled in. If you get a loose shoe on your trip duck tape may well keep it on until you get to your evenings stay and can contact a farrier.

The equipment you take with you is a matter of choice but the following are advisable; baler twine for tying up to, a small pen knife, torch, emergency first aid kit for horse and rider, torch, whistle, mobile phone and telephone numbers for your nights accommodation etc, duck tape, map and compass, headcollar and lead rope, spare batteries.

Remember any saddle panniers must be well balanced and not rub your pony.

The weather can change very quickly especially on the fells and you should avoid very high routes in bad weather. The National Park weather line number is 0870 055 0575. Local radio also has regular weather reports.

Lastly, don't forget to take lots of photographs and send an account of your ride to the society for inclusion in the newsletter!