Bridie saddles up for charity trek

Bridie Stanford-Bennett.
Bridie Stanford-Bennett.

A LONGHOUGHTON woman has embarked on an adventurous horseback riding challenge in Asia to raise money for an equestrian charity.

Bridie Stanford-Bennett, from North End, is tackling The Mongolia Horse Trek in aid of the British Horse Society (BHS).

The trip, which is one of the charity’s Challenge Rides, is a new one for 2011 and takes place in Terelji National Park, situated north-east of Mongolia’s capital city Ulaanbaatar.

But the fund-raiser, which started on July 3 and runs for 10 days, will be no easy feat.

Challengers need to be experienced, confident riders who are able to take swift changes in pace and be in the saddle for up to six hours a day, battling mixed terrain as they ride through forests, valleys, rivers and mountain passes.

The trip, which features stretches in the Gobi Grasslands and the Arburd Sands, involves riding small locally-bred Mongolian ponies, camping in yurts and meeting local camel and horse herdsmen as well as families.

The challenge will finish to coincide with the start of the Naadam festival in Ulaanbaatar, the largest Mongolian festival of its kind, including displays of archery, horse-riding and wrestling.

Bridie, who is a nurse at The Bondgate Surgery in Alnwick, is paying for all the costs of her adventure herself and donating the money she raises to the welfare arm of the BHS.

She said: “I could go to Mongolia and stay in hotels but doing this challenge with an element of endurance and living among the locals will let me experience the local way of life and hopefully raise some money for the horses’ welfare, which is an area close to my heart.

“The BHS Challenge Rides are vital in their donations in funding welfare issues and to help achieve improvement in the lives of countless horses, ponies and donkeys.”

The Mongolia Horse Trek is Bridie’s second BHS Challenge Ride after she embarked on the Inca Challenge last year, exploring the ancient Inca trails that lead through mountains to Machu Picchu, in Peru.

To sponsor Bridie, make donations directly to her or visit www.justgiving.com/Bridie-Stanford-Bennett0