Riders stay in a luxury yurt camp built especially on the moors, and ride in small guided teams with full ground support far over the moors.
“Obviously the safety of our riders and horses is as the heart of everything we do, and we had to be certain that Storm Ali would not blow our yurts away!” says Elaine Prior of LIberty Trails, the ride organisers.
However as the forecast gradually improved, plans were tailored and the ride began, with 22 riders from three nations taking part. Their feedback has been sensational:
“There aren’t enough words to describe what a spectacular experience I enjoyed in the last few days,” said US rider Jodie Vanbeukering. “New friends, both people and horses, will be remembered always, and each staff member that worked so hard to make it such a wonderful experience. I leave a piece of my heart tucked away in Dartmoor.”
“An incredible, unforgettable few days,” added Heidi Kirby, one of five riders who came to take part from London. “Stunning scenery, wonderful riding, delicious food, great company and lots of laughs — what more could you want?”
One young lady rider, a formula one engineer, completed her third Dartmoor Derby this year:
“I had the most incredible time on my third Dartmoor Derby,” says Emma Hunter, from Oxfordshire. “The Derby team absolutely know how to create and maintain something truly magical.”
Two American ladies completed every yard of the ride in their 70s, while another celebrated her 70th birthday during the ride, proving that strong riders of all ages can relish this challenge.
Three specialist local Dartmoor speakers came into camp at different times to tell riders about the ponies, history and geology and the literary traditions of Dartmoor.
Some eight other Devon businesses also work with the Derby ranging from horse hirers to local butchers, B&Bs, caterers and hunts. Another new addition was an on-site physiotherapist offering sports massages to tired riders at the end of a long day in the saddle.
“Running the Derby is a huge team effort and all those who put so much in, and all those who support this event, should be truly proud of the reaction of our guests, particularly as we worked around very challenging weather,” adds Elaine Prior.