#GetHorsey campaign encourages more than 3,300 would-be riders

More than 3,300 would-be horse riders sampled life in the saddle on this year’s Take up the Reins Tour of Great Britain. Mechanical horses RoboCob and Trigger travelled across the country, from Devon to Glasgow, via Monmouthshire, for 18 events over 31 days, encouraging visitors of all ages – from tiny tots to octogenarians – to #GetHorsey.

One of the youngest was 21-month-old Oscar Wilkins at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, while Dizzy Jones, who set herself a challenge to do something different every month of her 60th-birthday year, took to the saddle at Ilam Park, the National Trust venue near Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

The Take up the Reins team and their horse simulators began the tour in March as part of the Sport Relief Games, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, then rubbed shoulders with stars such as Daley Thompson and Beth Tweddle at SportFest, on the Getty family’s estate in Wormsley, Buckinghamshire, and visited the Official Team GB FanZone in Glasgow, where Olympic aficionados watched the action from Rio on big screens.

Among those who hosted events were TV presenters Kate Humble and Adam Henson. Take up the Reins joined Kate’s annual Humble by Nature Big Day Out at her farm in the Wye Valley, while Countryfile star Adam enjoyed a ride himself on RoboCob, complete with Western saddle, at his Cotswold Farm Park, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

“Equines already hold a special place in our hearts at the park, with our Shetland and Exmoor ponies,” said Adam, “so it was great to have an attraction promoting not just the sheer pleasure of riding, but also the health benefits.”

Other stars backing the campaign included Claire King, who plays Erica Holroyd in Coronation Street. “Horses have always been a big part of my life,” she said. “When I'm really busy and things start to get stressful, I saddle up and go for a ride to clear my head. Just me and a horse in the beautiful countryside – you can't beat it!” 

The Take up the Reins campaign, devised by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) and supported by Hoof, the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) participation initiative to encourage more people into the sport*, aims to get those of all ages and backgrounds connecting with horses.

Everyone who rode RoboCob or Trigger on the tour received a goody bag with a booklet on getting started and vouchers for a £10 Equine Taster Experience (towards a riding session) and a free pair of riding gloves when buying their first pair of jodhpurs and boots.

“People are really getting to understand the advantages of being around horses,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams. “Seeing Charlotte Dujardin and Nick Skelton win gold medals at the Rio Olympics is also encouraging for those who have thought of riding but never tried it. The Take up the Reins Tour of Great Britain has made thousands of people aware of the possibilities.”

For further information, visit takeupthereins.co.uk.