Sir Humphry Wakefield named as a Friend of the Guild
During the course of his adventurous life, Sir Humphry Wakefield was a Captain in Her Majesty’s Tenth Hussars, who rode in Argentina, Turkey and India.
Yet as British Long Rider Cathleen Leonard explained, riding in circles around a ring is dissimilar to the physical challenges and emotional intensity experienced during an equestrian journey.
“There is an unfathomable difference between simply owning a horse and riding him for several hours a day and actually travelling with him for weeks, months or even years on end. Travelling with a horse completely changes the nature of one's relationship with him as you and he become co-dependant on each other and suddenly there are a multitude of factors which need to be considered for his wellbeing which one would never need to confront under ordinary equestrian circumstances,” Cathleen remarked.
Sir Humphry recognized the accuracy of Cathleen’s statement. “I have spent my life with horses but, learning how to travel across the country with my horse is quite another thing and with critical new skills to learn.”
Undaunted, he informed the Guild of his intention to make an exploratory journey across Scotland.
“Equestrian travel is for the young at heart! I am about to depart on my first serious equestrian journey at the ripe age of 81.”
His plan was to ride from John O’Groats, Scotland to Land’s End, Cornwall in 2018. But first Sir Humphry intended to undertake a training trip with his horse Bouncer. It was designed to be “toe in water stuff, to learn in practice what the miraculous Horse Travel Handbook tells me so fully in theory.”
Though filled with excitement, it didn’t take long for the would-be Long Rider to encounter “a sharp learning curve”. Like life, horse travel doesn’t always go strictly according to plan. Poor weather, swarms of irritating midges, and misleading trails were among the problems Humphry and Bouncer encountered.
Yet the team proceeded “carefully and slowly at a leisurely pace.”
And despite its increasingly urbanized landscape, what Sir Humphry discovered was that the country’s legendary reputation for friendliness and hospitality had endured.
“Again and again I found myself met with huge friendship, cosy hospitality and opened gates. All the people I met were saintly and kind, welcoming and helpful.”
Having ridden for a week, “At the end of my 'test' I found that I was happy to ride for ever and Bouncer never seemed to tire.”
In recognition of the fact that Sir Humphry Wakefield is the oldest person to have departed on a modern equestrian journey, he has been named as a Friend of the Guild.
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