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Noelle Floyd – Magic on the Moor

By |2019-06-07T07:49:48+00:00December 12th, 2018|

Words by Emma Hunter Photography by Paul Quagliana Inspired by the famous Mongol Derby across the rugged steppes of Mongolia, the Dartmoor Derby is a 50-mile weekend riding challenge traversing throughout the Dartmoor National Park in England. Following long days on horseback, riders camp in Mongolian-style yurts and enjoy delicious, locally-sourced food. This year’s Derby, held in late September, attracted 22 riders from three different countries and all walks of life. The author, Emma Hunter, lives in the Cotswolds, England, with her horse, Duckling, and dog, Indiana, and works as an engineer for a Formula One team. She has ridden in two previous Dartmoor Derbies and is “ fully willing to admit that I have become somewhat addicted,” she says. “I love the thrill of riding out across Dartmoor on wonderful horses whilst in the company of like-minded people, and all the while being fuelled with exquisite food.” Emma relives her three-day excursion of galloping across the field of green. DAY 1: The Dawning of Dartmoor It’s always a ‘wow’ moment when Dartmoor starts to appear on the horizon, even more so when it’s bathed in sunshine and you are splashing through puddles. Puddles, because in the three-hour drive from the Cotswolds to Dartmoor, I experienced nearly the full range of weather being hurled at the U.K. – from glorious sunshine to sideways rain. This year the camp was based on the grounds of the HM Prison Dartmoor at Princetown, though rest assured, we were a good distance away from the infamous blocks of prison which have housed some of the U.K.’s most notorious criminals! I love getting into camp on the first day; everyone appreciates the hard work that has gone into [...]

Sidelines Magazine Dartmoor Derby Feature

By |2018-12-11T15:26:51+00:00December 11th, 2018|

by Pam Lazor It all started a few years ago, when Theresa Sanders’ non-horsey sister told her she had read a travel magazine article about the Dartmoor Derby in England — four days of challenging rides on horseback through the picturesque countryside of Dartmoor National Park. Theresa, a cardiology nurse and research supervisor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, rode and showed her two warmblood hunters with trainer Janet Salem of Patchwork Farm in addition to foxhunting. The thought of the ride piqued Theresa’s interest, and she decided to make the trip to England. Theresa registered for the September 2016 Dartmoor Derby and began focusing on fitness and stamina for the demanding ride. “I wanted to be prepped and well-conditioned to get the most out of the ride,” Theresa said. One week before boarding a plane to southwest England, she was injured while foxhunting. “My horse bucked me off, and even though I landed on my feet, when I put my left foot in the stirrup to get back on, there was pain during and after my ride,” she said. “I was in total denial, but X-rays later revealed a broken ankle.” Determined to live the dream she’d waited and prepared for during the past year, Theresa exercised under supervision in her casted leg, jokingly bound herself in bubble-wrap for a photograph, and put her name on the registration list for the 2017 Dartmoor Derby. England at Last Accommodations during the Derby are comfortable and unique. “Some chose to stay in the luxury yurts and others chose to stay in the castle,” Theresa explained. “Being a bit of a princess, I chose to stay in the [...]

Riding the Dartmoor Derby has been a dream three years in the making for me

By |2018-12-07T14:28:10+00:00October 24th, 2018|

Dartmoor Derby UK Horse Riding Weekend Riding the Dartmoor Derby has been a dream three years in the making for me. Some dreams are worth the wait. I finally rode the Dartmoor Derby from September 21-23rd and it lived up to all of the hype and expectations that I had for it. by Stacey Stearns First, a little background; the Dartmoor Derby was founded by Elaine Prior of Liberty Trails and brings the speed, excitement, endurance, and fun of the Mongolian Derby and luxury of an African Safari to the moors of England. The Derby had a trial run in 2015, and this was the third year Liberty Trails hosted a group of riders on Dartmoor. Riders are in groups of eight, and can bring their own horses or hire a hunter-type horse for the ride. We had 22 riders from three different countries this year, forming three different groups. Each group has two local guides, and at least two ground crew members. The guides re-ride the Derby routes prior to the event each September. The plan for the Derby is to arrive on Friday and have a short ride to get to know the horses. Then it’s full days of riding on Saturday and Sunday, and departure on Monday morning. Each year, the Derby is up to 50 miles of riding across Dartmoor. High winds and heavy rain forced some last minute changes to the Derby this year, but the organizers took it all in stride. They switched the short Friday ride to Saturday, and planned a longer distance for Friday, telling us all to wear our rain gear both days. I knew we were riding soon after arrival, so was [...]