More than 9,000 riders have signed up for the Great Horses for Health Relay, which kicked off in Yorkshire earlier this month.

The relay aims to celebrate how much horses have supported people during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as raising funds and promoting awareness for the positive impact horses have on mental health and wellbeing, as well as road safety and equine welfare.

The relay is supporting seven charities: HorseWorld Trust, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Hope Pastures, HorseBack UK, Riding for the disabled Association, Bransby Horses and North Wales Horse Watch

Participants can take part on horseback, carriage driving, in-hand hacking, cycling or walking.

The UK has been split into 11 regions and participants in each region have two weeks to complete their rides. When a section of the relay is complete, the baton will be passed on to the next region.

Your mileage will also count towards your #Hack1000Miles tally.

‘Good luck and sit tight’

The Duchess of Cornwall has been announced as royal patron for the relay.

Her Royal Highness confessed to being “very envious” of everyone taking part.

“I must confess that I’m very envious of you all. Horses have always played an important part in my life and in my younger days, nothing would have given me more pleasure than to join you on your epic journey on my own horse,” said the Duchess.

“As you ride across the UK, you will be celebrating how our wonderful horses have supported us physically, emotionally and mentally over the past very challenging year.

“Horses have been important in our lives for generations, whether as working animals or faithful friends. I sincerely hope that this [relay] will increase awareness of the unbelievable bond between human and horses to the enormous benefit of both.

“You’ll be much in my thoughts as I follow your progress across the coming months. Good luck and sit tight.”

‘Huge boost for charities’

Sophie Gifford, who founder and organiser of the Relay, added: “As a keen equestrian herself, Her Royal Highness understands how horses can help have a positive impact on our well-being.

“To have The Duchess of Cornwall as our patron is also a huge boost for our seven equine charities who have struggled through Covid and are in need of support to continue their vital work.”

For riders and carriage drivers, the entry fee is £15; under-18s £10; in-hand walkers and cyclists £10 and pedestrians £8.

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