Sunday, February 04, 2007

Beautiful Bedgebury.......

When at Coldblow Farm last September we learned lots about TROT rides (Tollrides Off-Road Trust) as it turns out the farm is the headquarters for a group of people who dedicate time, energy and money to working with land owners across the country to set up routes across their land that riders can use to keep away from the traffic and connect to local bridleways. TROT enables riders to ride land that would otherwise be private and hack for hours across beautiful countryside. Check out this site for more details:

So, we had planned to ride out in Bedgebury one day between Christmas and New Year but Mr Coy put paid to that by breaking his bit in half when he got a little spooked so we had to postpone the event in favour of buying new bits of tack!

Finally, after another false start when we realised we didn't have a gate key, we booked with Dora at Coldblow to travel down on Sunday 4th February. Armed with hatbands, the ever important gate key and lorry sticker and for the extortionate cost of £5 each - this is break the bank stuff - not - we arrived at the yard, mucked out and loaded the lorry ready for the trip.

The boys got dressed in their sexy travelling boots and rugs - Herbs has an exceptionally sexy poll guard which makes him look like a complete tart but he hasn't yet seen himself in a mirror wearing it and the other horses don't let him hear them laughing so he doesn't realise - when I remember to take a picture I'll post it and you'll see what I mean!

So... timings. We intended to leave at 10am - and were away at 10.30! Not bad huh? I reckoned the journey would be an hour and a half and it was exactly that. The boys travelled like pro's again and we arrived in the dedicated box park at midday.

Herbs sweated up dreadfully but the fabulous secrets of the Thermatex rug meant his saddle area was lovely and dry. Whilst we settled the horses with a hay net and nose around the park, Sharon and I had a very important tipple before setting off. The park was quite busy and some riders returned whilst we were about to set off. They had ridden hunting pace and trotted and cantered wherever possible and managed the ride we were going to do in about 50 minutes. Now to the maps....

Well, to start with there is a nice red ride on the map which we thought we'd do first, and see how time goes. The green ride joins to the red so we could always take that route to extend the ride depending on time and good behaviour (from the horses not us). The rides are marked out on the land with the red ride being - orange (?) and the green one being - green (seems sensible).

Mounted and with "Wow this is new" faces on the horses we set off confidently and found the first orange sign, left we went, then kind of left again, a bit of right, then trotted up a hill - and found ourselves back where we were when we took the first left - some nice people on foot kindly pointed out that we were back pretty much where we stated, after like, 15 minutes.

Much map consultation later we rode on and tried to follow the orange signs but they seemed to be a bit thin on the ground - I think someone went round and nicked them all before we set off. Following our noses - big mistake, we ended up on a road dithering about which way to go and a fella came to our rescue. Needless to say we were absolutely nowhere near where we thought we were. But we had a plan!

Ok, so we got most of the red (sorry orange) ride wrong but we knew we could extend onto the green (yes, that's green) ride so a little later along a path a lovely green sign appeared - eureka! Hmmm, then came what looked like a lovely canter which was begging to be ridden so we had a lovely spurt up a small hill and the track went on, and on, and on - just wonderful! Herbs was a little strong but sensible and toward the top of the track we flew through some water which of course is Coy's worst nightmare. Still he did us proud and flew threw the lots without Sharon flying in a different direction so all praise to the little man.

Now we were on confident ground, a plethora of little green signs and we were off on a mission. After riding for quite some time over a mixture of soft ground and tracks we passed Louisa Lake (which we were meant to come across when we were still on the red/orange route - oh well.... and then realised we were at the nice long canter spot again. You guessed it - it had to be done! Well this time my boy was a dream, we had a lovely sedate canter all the way through and he was sooooooooo sensible - kisses aplenty for the chap :-)

Ok, so we thought we were going to have to walk back down the track we cantered but nah, suddenly it worked out that for the first time in the whole ride we knew exactly where we were and trotted back to the box park.

Happy ponies now settle with more hay and tack loaded we got the lunch out (oh yes, we remembered to bring food for ourselves this time - very uncommon!) and checked the map to see where we had ridden.

Hmmm, we didn't ride where we thought we had at all, and in fact we did practically the whole thing completely the opposite way around to what we'd intended. So what, we got back didn't we??

At the box park we got chatting to a couple who had ridden out across the forest and beyond armed with 1:25000 maps and compasses so maybe I ought to brush up on my orienteering skills - they got me a bit interested in Trek riding too so that's something I might try some time soon - watch this space.

We had intended to leave Bedgebury at 3pm so that we were back at the yard when it was still light but we are useless and left at 4:20 instead. Coy and Herbs loaded beautifully again and we set off back home. We likened driving with the boys on board to driving the kids home from somewhere when they are sleeping in the car - they were so quiet you wouldn't even know they were there.

It was an easy (if a little cold until we persuaded the lorry heating to start working) and after driving the last part in the dark we arrived back home safe and sound just before 6pm.

Unbelievably, we had the horses rugged up and settled in their stables pretty quickly, sorted out the lorry and were away home just after 7pm so I think we're finally getting our organisation organised!

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the event, owing to some thieving gits nicking my camera at New Year - this is a story in itself that I still have to write about but all will be revealed in the next week or so when I write about our New Year ride - I'm going backwards with this Blog!

Kisses to horses for a superb day, and we look forward to the next one. As for the boys, I'm guessing they are now dreaming of grass and twigs to chew tomorrow.......

Bedgebury is thoroughly recommended, and all riders should be encouraged to investigate TROT rides in their area as they really do open up the riding opportunities.

Happy hacking!!