13 March 1998

Horses help to put back a bit of our lost excitement

TEN-THOUSAND new riders means reaching 1m people, said the Princess Royal at the launch of the second National Riding Week, the aim of which is to encourage more people to take an interest in equestrian activities, either by trying horse riding or watching equestrian sports.

Modern life lacks much of the excitement that goes with risk, but horses help to put it back, said the Princess, for however well you have prepared nothing is certain where horses are concerned.

Equestrian personalities attending the launch at the Knightsbridge, London, barracks of the Household Cavalry included TV celebrity Noel Edmonds, whose wife breeds ponies and whose daughters are up-and-coming young riders. He spoke of his own risky experiences with horses – from learning to ride on a retired police horse to giving the kiss of life to a new-born foal. All were enriching experiences, even if only appreciated in retrospect.

The special events and activities planned for National Riding Week which runs from May 18 to 25, are designed to encourage those who have long-hankered after trying the sport to actually have a go. According to statistics produced by the British Equestrian Trade Association they number 2.6m people: That for every person who rides there is another who would like to do so.

Each day of National Riding Week will have a special focus: Countryside and leisure on Monday; Health, fitness and lifestyle on Tuesday; Education, training and careers on Wednesday; Safety on Thursday and Welfare on Friday, with the weekend dedicated to a "Take a friend riding" exercise. Details will be available on a special telephone hotline (01460-281880).