Man Vs. Horse 2016

Posted on Wednesday 20 April 2016 @ 11:12  •  Back to main blog
Man V Horse Scotland has now just had it’s 5th year as a stand-alone event and this year it enjoyed a new loop route of 26 km from Loch Ness Riding above Dores on South Loch Ness. The nature of the route made it logistically easier for the organisers as the previous linear route had require transporting runners to the start and taking horsebox drivers back to the start at the end of the race.

When developing the route for the race this year it was important to make it as level a playing field as possible for runners and riders, so a relatively technical route was required. In 4 out of the 5 previous years, the horses have been faster so a vet gate finish was introduced for them but the runners time finished when they crossed the finish line. This year the vet gate finish proved just too time consuming for the riders and four runners finished in front of the first pair of horses. However, even without this, the fastest runners would have been too quick for the horses – though not by much.

The runners were set out just 5 minutes ahead of the first horse, in a mass start, and the horses were set out at minute intervals, either singly or in a pair, as they wished. This was closer than they had been previously and it worked well as there was a lot more contact and “craic” between riders and runners. A sweeper with first aid training rode along at the back to look after any stragglers and also demarked the route as he went, which was a great help.

There were two checkpoints, plus a vet check at half way where riders were required to get off and trot up their horses in hand. If they looked fine they were allowed to continue immediately but the vets could hold them up or stop them if they saw fit. All horses were also vetted at the start to make sure they were fit to start and were required to be either shod or booted at least on their front feet as a condition of entry.

The weather was dry and quite chilly, with a fairly fresh wind, which made for perfect riding conditions but the fire pit back at base at the finish was very welcome to some of the athletes as they chilled down. Altogether 30 runners and 16 riders took part. All but one runner and one rider completed the event and (one got lost and one lost a shoe- so no casualties!). Some of the runners were quite phenomenal, including Caroline Marwick, who was the fastest female runner and is also a vet in this area. Some may remember her being on a Scottish Endurance Team at a Home International in Ireland with her palomino pony !

The mum and daughter who were the fastest horses of the day were Sarah and Holly Walker from Tayside riding two mares purchased unbroken from Iain Patterson not long ago. I was just over a minute behind with Jay (Indian djesik) who was feeling just a bit too well in himself after doing 64 km at the Black Isle last week!! But we had great fun – lovely to have so much company out on course after so many rides where I see hardly anyone!

The event is run by the South Loch Ness Access Group under the auspices of the BHS Bridleways affiliation. We always choose another charity with whom to split any profits and this year we were raising funds for the Highland Hospice which is undergoing a big rebuild. At the finish we have a great feast of sandwiches, cakes, scones and biscuits – always mountains of food; kindly donated and served by local helpers – which really makes the event, as riders, runners and helpers all get a chance to socialise leading up to the prize giving while we wait for the slower competitors to come in.

Ideas for next year include taking the vet gate finish off the horses and letting their time finish as they cross the line. They will still need to pass their vetting within ½ hr to avoid being eliminated but it should bring their times much closer to the runners. This year’s event was on the 17th April. Next year’s should be around then too – so think about a spring break to the Highlands. It is a great outing/training ride for horses and runners.

FYI – I am attaching a list of result so you can see the split of the runners/riders.

Man Vs Horse Facebook Group

Loch Ness Riding
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