Estate reopens eight-mile cross country route for horse riders

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An eight-mile cross country route around the private Gaddesden Estate is to reopen this summer after closing to new members last year.

The decison to open The Gaddesden Estate Ride follows the negotiation of an affordable insurance premium with a new provider, consultation with estate tenants and existing ride members and through the support of the British Horse Society.

Originally opened in 1992, the course is 90 per cent off-road, follows estate roads and tracks and features a jumping complex of mainly natural fences.

Plans for this year include the appointment of a dedicated maintenance contractor, whose duties will include an overhaul of the course in time to welcome the first riders in June.

There will be regular park and ride events throughout the summer and a sponsored ride in September, which will also celebrate the official re-opening of the ride this year. Gaddesden Place RDA, which is located on the estate, will be the main charity to benefit from the September event.

Cross country training days are also to be offered by a BHS instructor, and it is hoped that in due course an indoor talks programme and other initiatives may be developed.

The Gaddesden Estate is already home to a number of equine-related enterprises, including the Upperwood Farm Stud, Gaddesden Place RDA and the UK Centre for Horseback Combat, which offers a wide range of courses including horseback archery and rider confidence (www.horsebackcombat.co.uk). The estate itself offers DIY livery as well as paddocks to let.

Nicholas Halsey, of the Gaddesden Estate, said: “We were extremely sorry to see the ride close in 2014, when an unexpected rise in the insurance premium rendered the venture financially untenable. Earlier this year we faced a tough decision: to close the jumps for good and undertake only basic maintenance activity on the route, or to invest in the whole course and expand our appeal so as to have a ride that reflected the values of the rest of the Gaddesden Estate. We are very grateful to the BHS for their support in developing a plan that we hope will help ensure that this lovely rural course remains open for public enjoyment for years to come.”

The ride will reopen for a one-year trial period, starting on June 1 and subscription applications are available via the Gaddesden Estate office.

The first Park and Ride event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 31. Interested participants should contact Dawn Grocock at the British Horse Society via dawngrocock@hertfordshire.gov.uk or call 01992 555235.