With the competitive endurance season now under full swing Brechin rider John Thomson and his pure bred Arabian gelding Prince Omar took the recent opportunity to head south across the border, where horse and rider were called up to represent EGB’s Northumberland and Tyneside during the five counties Hadrian’s Challenge.
The endurance ride of just under 100 miles, split between the four rider teams, took the combinations through the Newcastleton and Kershope forest area to the west of Kielder, criss-crossed the border and passed the famous Border Stane on a number of occasions.
John and Omar took on the first 46 miles with the other N&T team members covering the remaining fifty-four miles between them and following in hot pursuit.
In remarkably good ground and weather conditions, John and Omar produced a fast first loop to the vet hold where Omar was quickly vetted before the combination set off again. Unfortunately, a broken clip on a breastplate caused major saddle slip problems during the climbs and resulted in slower progress.
However, conditions remained dry and clear and Team Omar came back into the finish in good time. Typically the heavens opened as the combination reached the timekeeper and it was within a lengthy torrential downpour that Team Chief Peter Carter and crew worked to prepare Omar for the final vetting.
“I was given a re-hydration drink, a warm support pad strapped on to my back and told to get out of the way and relax.”
“During this time, it was of those rare moments when I could stand back and watch in awe at the highly efficient and professional manner in which the chef d’equipe and crew worked so hard in absolutely appalling conditions to get Omar ready for the final vetting.”
“With Omar cleared and all four horses now home and successfully vetted, our N&T team went to the top of the leader-board.
“On calculation this produced a tie but with N&T having the lower average heart rate for our horses, it looked as if we had taken a clear win. Unfortunately with a further distance recalculation, it was found that our short distance rider had missed out by four kilometres, which meant we were eventually put into third place.
“Nevertheless, the haul of awards ensured that we didn’t come home empty handed and the experience was invaluable in preparation for the bigger competitions ahead of us.”