How the equestrian community of the Yorkshire Wolds came together to remember rider who died of cancer - and took on care of her beloved horse
Kate Jeffery, whose story we told in November last year, had been diagnosed with breast cancer in June and sadly passed away in January. Kate loved horses and loved riding out from her home with husband Chris at Spring View Farm, Thornton on the Hill.
But Kate also knew that it was unlikely she would ride again and being highly practical (I know this myself as she was a personal friend along with Chris) knew her horse Lorna, an Irish cob, needed a good home and someone who would ride her regularly.
“Kate asked whether I would have Lorna while she was having treatment,” says Carole.
“I didn’t know Kate particularly well, but I’d had a very similar horse to Lorna that I’d recently retired and our mutual friend Anne Robson had thought of me when Kate had been thinking about how to deal with Lorna as she knew I was looking for a horse to ride. Anne who was one of Kate’s closest friends, had given Kate my number.
“Kate messaged me to ask if I would like to have Lorna. It was one of those messages you don’t expect to receive and that you wouldn’t wish to receive because of someone else’s sad news, but Kate was incredibly kind about it all and wanted Lorna to be well looked after and ridden.
“I went over to see Lorna, who apart from being younger is the absolute twin of my older and now retired horse Finnigin. Kate was in the early stages of her treatment when I went in July. Anne brought Lorna to me in September.
Sadly, Kate’s battle never became any easier, but Carole did what she could to keep Kate’s spirits up while being mindful of not upsetting her. Carole says it led to some times when she was unsure of what to do for the best.
“I was a bit hesitant about sending photographs because I wanted Kate to see Lorna, but I didn’t want her to feel worse because she couldn’t ride her. I messaged and sent the odd photograph when I was riding her, to keep in touch, but I was keen to be in the background because obviously Kate had more things to be concerned about. I kept in touch, trying to jolly her along in the best way I could.
When Kate passed away Carole wanted to do something in Kate’s memory and to raise funds for St Leonard’s Hospice in York where Kate had spent her final days and that’s how ‘Ride for Kate’ has come about, which will start and finish where Lorna is stabled at Moor Farm in Shiptonthorpe, and in conjunction with Ride Yorkshire which was set up by Janet Cochrane in 2010.
Carole is still relatively new to the area and Janet’s Ride Yorkshire had been very helpful to her when moving to the Wolds. As Carole has enjoyed Janet’s fun rides and pleasure rides, designed to encourage people to enjoy the countryside on horseback and she had organised charity rides previously, Carole enlisted her services.
“I’m from Boroughbridge originally where the Johnston family ran the Boroughbridge Livestock Market for many years,” says Carole. “I used to live in Bagby near Thirsk, but now I live in the lovely Yorkshire Wolds.
“I moved here about a year ago and have fallen in love with the countryside. The Wolds is just second to none, I’ve ridden all over the country and this is now my favourite place to ride. It has bridleways forevermore.
“Janet’s rides are a wonderful way of getting to know the area and other people, and I hoped that with Janet’s help and my partner Ollie we could come up with something that would be in Kate’s memory and also raise money for and awareness of St Leonard’s Hospice.
‘Ride for Kate’ is also going under the name of the Western Wolds Pleasure Ride and is being promoted as Ride Yorkshire’s big event of 2023 alongside many other fun rides and guided rides.
“We are hoping for around 100 riders,” says Carole. “The ride will start and finish here at Moor Farm and it is £25 to take part with everything going to St Leonard’s. We will also have a tombola.
Janet says the ‘Ride for Kate’ will take place on a mix of public bridleways, country lanes and mainly on private land.
“The attraction of being primarily on private land is a real draw for people. When I started Ride Yorkshire I very quickly realised that charity rides or pleasure rides were very popular.
“What people are looking for is safe riding country where they can have a nice day out and they can ride around with their friends and chat and have a good time in new and different areas. They just want a calm and sensible ride that is not too long.
“Our ‘Ride for Kate’ will have two routes, one a 6-8 mile loop and the other a 10-12 mile loop, and we are well on the way to achieving Carole’s goal of 100 riders. I think it’s going to do really well for St Leonard’s as many of those who have entered already have added something over and above the entry fee knowing that it is also for something so important.
“Lorna will be there,” says Carole. “She’s a real character, quite feisty and very forthright but with a heart of gold. I’d just like to thank all of the farmers and landowners who have made this ride possible.
Ride for Kate will take place Sunday 25 June. For full details https://www.rideyorkshire.org/western-wolds-pleasure-ride/ or to simply make a donation to St Leonard’s Hospice visit https://stleonardshospice.org.uk/tributes/kate-jeffery