Hunt joins the hunt in bareback challenge to help forces heroes

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THE Bilsdale and Hurworth Hunt’s final day of the season looks like being a memorable one for Peter Hunt.

He plans to take part in the whole event from start to finish.

This involves a cross-country gallop over a series of fences, followed by a day’s hunting. Nothing unusual about this, you might think, except that Peter will be riding without a saddle.

Add to this the fact that he has only be riding for about five years and you have to ask the question, why on earth is he doing it?

There are two reasons. Firstly he wants to raise money for two favourite charities, Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Help for Heroes, and secondly, because he has confidence in Ron, the horse he will be riding.

The 16.3hh three-quarters Irish Draught horse belongs to Peter’s wife, Jen.

“He’d got fed up of jumping and hunting when she got him a few years ago but she got him going again and now he loves it,” said Peter.

Jen had some lessons and did quite a bit of schooling work with the horse and last summer she tried riding him bareback.

Not to be outdone, Peter also had a go. “After the second or third time, I tried popping him over a cross pole and he loved it. By the end of the summer, I was jumping him over 1m 30cm,” said Peter. “In a rash moment, I said I reckon I could do a day’s hunting.”

One thing led to another and having decided to take on this challenge, Peter has been busy preparing himself and Ron for their big day.

He has had some lessons with instructor Angela Nelson and Jen is also casting a critical eye over his schooling. And while jumping in the arena has gone well, they have yet to tackle a cross-country course.

“We are going to Helen Bell’s course this weekend to do some cross-country, so I’ll have a better idea of what I have let myself in for by Sunday afternoon,” said Peter.

Out hunting, he knows the horse will go into a short, sharp trot and a jog and that he has no patience when it comes to queuing for a jump.

“He sometimes does a massive cat-leap forward and that can really unseat you. But he has huge power and can jump over a metre comfortably from trot.”

Luckily, Peter is already super fit. He is a British Military fitness instructor in his spare time and runs regular classes in York.

In his day job, he is head of the sales team at Inntravel near Castle Howard.

He was in the Territorial Army for five years, which is when he trained as a fitness instructor and which is also the reason he has chosen Help for Heroes as one of his charities.

“Riding and jumping without a saddle felt perfectly comfortable from the word go,” said Peter. “It’s helped my riding, which has come in on leaps and bounds in the last few months.”

The big test is yet to come, however, for Peter, who celebrates his 33rd birthday the day before his different day out with the hunt, which is on March 10.

“I have always thought that if you are going to do a charity challenge, it should be a real challenge and this one will be a huge challenge. I don’t know what the outcome will be.”

To make a donation go to www.justgiving.com/teams/withoutasaddle.

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