The start of the competition season for many riders has been pretty much washed-out or snowed-off, with a winter that has kept on giving.

Eventing fixtures have been abandoned the length and breadth of the country and even indoor dressage and showjumping didn’t escape, with frozen warm-up arenas and icy venues causing cancellations aplenty.

Living in Weardale and pretty high up, I’ve felt as frustrated as anyone not being able to get out and about with the horses. So in between the snow showers I’ve been relieving the cabin fever by having a look at where to go riding overseas… just a thought!

In The Saddle has been arranging bespoke riding holidays since 1995 and Botswana, Paraguay and Jordan feature on a pretty impressive destination list. I personally
quite fancy the Lesoto Expedition described as “an off-grid adventure to experience the untouched wilds of the Sehlbathebe National Park – a part of Lesotho most tourists never get the chance to see” or for a totally different experience, the Yukon, the last Canadian border before Alaska; “a true experience of wilderness beauty: glacial valleys, pristine rivers and lakes, alpine meadows, forest and tundra. On this expedition, you follow the paths of wild animals such as moose, caribou and wolves, and in the footsteps of the last trappers of the Yukon”.

Adventurers >>

A bit closer to home, Clair Woff from County Durham Equine Massage (who keeps Oli and Strider in tip-top shape with regular treatments) and her friend, Sarah Sowden, have an adventure all of their own planned this summer with their Base 2 Base Charity Horse Ride in support of the Great North Air Ambulance. After going on several holidays with their horses and exploring the Cumbrian landscape they forged the idea of combining their passion with raising money for a worthy and local cause.

In August they will be riding their horses, Willy and Sprout, from the GNAAS air base in Langwathby, Cumbria to the GNAAS air base at Durham Tees Valley. The route is more than 100km following old drover trails and ancient byways over the Pennines, through Teesdale on to Darlington and Yarm.

You can follow their adventures on Facebook @BaseToBaseCharityHorseRide

Saddle up >>

Oli and I finally got away on a little road trip of our own and headed down to ArenaUK at Grantham for their three-day April Show Jumping Event. Oli loves staying at an event and having a good nose at what is going on.

He had an end barn stable so he was able to poke his head out and watch all the comings and goings. Once down there, we had some at-the-event support from British Showjumping Coach, Sarah Tubbs from Marwood Equestrian Centre near Barnard Castle.

Sarah is Lead British Showjumping Coach for the North East Academies and Head Coach for the Durham British Showjumping Academies. She is also qualified as a Para Showjumping Coach.

Sarah had her own horses there but still found time to help us with our warm up and Oli showed off in the big outdoor arena with three great show jumping rounds, securing two fifth places, and the sun finally came out! Result!

Luxe kit >>

Fresh back from Lincolnshire it feels like the year is starting properly with diary out and plans being made for more outings.

With some showjumping prize money to spend I couldn’t resist taking a sneaky peek at the unbelievably luxurious collection at Donna Diva equestrian.

Located halfway between Edinburgh and Glasgow and the go-to-place for riders from the North East and the Borders, MD, Grace Hughes, has curated a truly luxe collection of premium brands showcased by a cohort of brand ambassador riders.

I am definitely adding a pair of bespoke short casual boots from DeNiro in Bordeaux leather with brushed leather toes and a sparkly suede upper to my birthday list, together with a Kask Dogma Chrome light Swarovski hat in navy and a Pikeur Samera Sporty-elegant ladies’ quilted jacket in caramel. Here’s hoping!

And my show jumping prize money? Well I managed to stretch to a very smart pair of Cavallo lurex socks!

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