It was an unusually chilly start to the Blakeridge Ride this year, in it’s new slot in August. But the conditions were fantastic for the horses and riders, and led to some exceptionally fast times being achieved. Nearly a dozen horses completed the 80km ERASA cloverleaf in under 4 hours.
The ride is hosted by Harry and Margaret Hobson on their farm Blakeridge, between Graaff-Reinet and Pearston. In previous years, it was held in February – the height of the Karoo summer – and without the usual blistering temperatures the horses flew around the mostly flat course. 49 horses were entered, and only 2 were eliminated for minor problems. The most remarkable achievement of this particular ride was that 17 horses were barefoot; nearly 35% of the field!
The Perseverance Arabian & Endurance Horses were all barefoot as usual, while the Waterlea stud had decided once again not to shoe their novice horses. Klara Ann Webb – with over 1000 km barefoot kilometres under her belt – was riding with her son Dylan and Tarryn McLaren, one of Klara’s students from the barefoot Daleview Equestrian Academy. Megan and Mike King of Graaff-Reinet were riding their novice horses without shoes, and hostess Margaret Hobson was riding Blakeridge Shakira unshod as well.
It was a nerve-wracking finish as Peter Chantler of the Western Cape, and Donalyn Hennessy of Perseverance were battling it out right down to the line. At the time of writing, Peter was currently seated at number 1 in South Africa on the Maydan Open World Rankings, compiled by the FEI, and was riding Jupiter, a Team Landman horse. But first across in 3 hrs 47 minutes was barefoot superstar PSV Mabruk, ridden by Donalyn.
This was Mabruk’s second win in a month, and only his second ride since recovering from African Horse Sickness. His rider also had problems; Donalyn and Abbi Tennant both had severely sprained ankles, but still managed to take 1st and 3rd places in the Standardweights on Mabruk & PSV Liberty. 4th place went to ride host Harry Hobson.
Lourens Marais of Hofmeyr won the Heavyweights, and was the only heavyweight rider to finish in under 4 hours. He was followed by Francois Seegers on PSV Matrix, who was also desperately ill with AHS a few months ago; this was also his second ride since coming back into training. Trevor Nel of Port Elizabeth took 3rd place.
In the Lightweights, Leanne Wels of the Welbech stud came in 1st, also in under 4 hours. Claire Hobson took 2nd place and 3rd went to Cheryl Duthie, both riding Blakeridge horses. Ashley Gower on PSV Mercury took 1st place in the Young Riders, closely followed by Jenna Lucas and Christopher van der Walt, all under 4 hours.
The Best Condition prize for a Young Rider/Junior horse went to barefoot horse PSV Mercury ridden by Ashley Gower, and the Senior Best Condition prize went to Sahida, ridden by Chris Landman of Cookhouse.
It was another full house for the team from Perseverance, with the four competitive riders all placing in the top 3 of their categories, and guest rider Joe Carr fitting in a quick 30km day ride on PSV Neptune. Joe, who works in Saudi Arabia, is planning to enter the 2012 Mongol Derby, and was visiting the stud to do some serious training.
A huge thank you to the Hobson family as well as the Midlands Endurance Riding Club for organising the ride, and to the Wheatlands Sports Club for great catering! The hardworking vets were Roz Krige and Brendan Farrell, and treatment vet was Roaul Strydom. It was Gys Botha’s first outing as ridemaster, and the timekeeping was ably done by Clive Lord.