Kate Godfrey and her faithful Highland Ponies are setting off on a journey round Scotland
Hoofprints Over Scotland
In July 2009, Kate Godfrey is setting off from her home in Perthshire on a long ride round Scotland (and a tiny bit of England) to raise money for the international training arm of World Horse Welfare.
The journey, which will last almost four months, aims to cover over a thousand miles using ancient hill tracks, drove roads and old military routes through the mountains.
On the trip she will be accompanied by two special brothers: her Highland pony geldings Doogs and Yeoman.
“Highlands are just ideal for a trip of this kind,” said Kate. “They’re strong and docile and they will march tirelessly to the next horizon. They’re also ‘easy keepers’ which have adapted over thousands of years to exist on poor quality mountain grazing. These guys are extremely clever and surefooted about crossing bogs and rivers – as long as you trust them to make the decisions!”
Kate bred the ponies herself and together they have made many trips camping in the Scottish mountains – but never one of this duration.
“I’ve been dreaming of doing a trip like this for some years,” she said. “It’s now come to the top of my to-do list for two reasons. Firstly, Scotland is benefiting from new legislation under the Land Reform Act which now gives tremendous access to thousands of miles of tracks across Scotland’s wild land for horse riders.
Secondly, my farriers, Jim and Kevin Balfour, have told me stories and shown me photos of the fantastic work they do for World Horse Welfare running training courses in developing countries. It’s such a great cause – I wanted to do something to help.”
It has obviously struck a chord with her fellow Scottish horse riders: she has been overwhelmed with offers of places to stay, grazing (and the occasional bath!) from people on her route, as well as lots of local information about tracks and byways. She has also been invited to pay a visit to Gartmore House, the one-time home of long rider R. B. Cunninghame Graham, the ‘Gaucho Laird’.
Kate’s partner Bill Everett MRCVS, a familiar face for many years in Scottish endurance vetting circles, plans to meet up with Kate periodically to monitor the physiological effects of long riding on the ponies. “And, hopefully, check up on my welfare too!” adds Kate.
You can find out more about Kate’s journey and about long distance riding in Scotland generally on her website.
For more information about R. B. Cunninghame Graham, please click here.
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