And also ensure that: You are experienced, competent and fit enough.
Your horse is reliable and fit.
You have suitable equipment. Equipment Thanks to the growth of interest in long-distance riding there is much specialist equipment available to make long days out more comfortable for both you and your horse.
Make certain your horse is well shod – take a spare hoofboot in your panniers and practise fitting it beforehand.
Also, consider having a spare set of horseshoes made to put in your horse’s luggage.
Ensure your horse’s tack fits well and is in good repair.
Accustom your horse to new or unusual equipment such as panniers before you start out.
If you do not use a longdistance bridle, from which the bit can be detached, fit a headcollar under the bridle.
A fleece girth cover and numnah can prevent sores.
Panniers can be carried to the front or rear of the saddle, but must be well balanced.
Your own clothes must be comfortable too.
Gel seat-savers, cage or sprung stirrups, and lightweight ‘endurance-style’ helmets can all add to your comfort and safety.
Multipocketed waistcoats or tabards are available, complete with transparent map holder.
A water- and windproof jacket is essential, as is good quality footwear – many find that short riding boots and short chaps are more practical as they are easier to walk in than long boots.
Pull on jodhpurs and cycling underwear will also reduce chafing.
Gloves provide protection for the hands and extra grip in wet weather. Other essential equipment: Ordnance Survey Map Compass (wrist-mounted) or GPS (wrist-mounted) Mobile phone Whistle Hoofpick Baler twine Leadrope First-aid kits for horse and rider Skills Riding on Dartmoor demands the ability to read country and weather, to negotiate steep slopes, ditches, gates, rivers and streams, to ride with consideration for others and for your horse.
You should be able to mount and dismount easily and be prepared to lead your horse over difficult terrain or if it is tired.
Your horse should be reliable and steady, willing to enter water, negotiate obstacles and to lead quietly.
You must be able to read an Ordnance Survey map. A good way to acquire these skills is to take part in the British Horse Society’s Trec programme, which organises training sessions and competitions, aimed to give riders and horses the ability and confidence to cope with an all-day ride across varied terrain. Fitness You must be fit enough to cope with several hours in the saddle.
To achieve this, increase the amount of time you spend riding, or at least improve your overall level of fitness by walking, running, swimming or cycling.
Warm up your muscles with gentle stretching exercises before you ride.
Practise mounting and dismounting, without the help of a mounting block, and with panniers in place.
Practise riding with different stirrup lengths and with standing up in your stirrups.
Adjusting the length of your stirrup leathers can ease the strain on tired muscles and joints.
A tired, unbalanced rider will result in a tired, unbalanced horse, and that is when injury is more likely to occur.
Your horse must also be fit to tackle different and demanding terrain, and possibly longer distances than usual.
This requires a careful preparation in terms of work and exercise, allied to appropriate feeding.
Include some longer rides (at least 20 miles – 32 km) in your own locality (sponsored pleasure rides are good preparation) before you undertake a long journey into unfamiliar territory. Taking your horse to Dartmoor − Checklist of equipment For your base location Food for horses Haynets Water for horses For your ride Details of your plans, where you are going, what time you intend to return Contact telephone numbers Food and drink for riders First aid kit for horses First aid kit for riders Map in waterproof case Compass – wrist-mounted or GPS – wrist-mounted with spare batteries Mobile phone Whistle Hoofpick Emergency blanket Pocket knife or multitool Baler twine Riding clothes Hat Waterproof and windproof jacket/trousers Gloves Jodhpurs Boots Appropriate warm clothing For the horse* Headcollar with leadrope Bridle Saddle Numnah/saddle cloth that your horse is used to Panniers* Hoofboots if used* Any protective boots that your horse normally wears* Grooming kit Sweat rug or cooler if used *Remember to only use equipment your horse is used to or comfortable with; a ride on Dartmoor is not the place to try out new equipment.
Read more about Adjusting the length of your stirrup leathers can ease the strain on tired muscles and joints: