A vet has completed a 1,300-mile solo ride across Britain to raise funds for Vet Life and Pets As Therapy. Kate McMorris and her palomino homebred mare, Marilyn, finished their challenge in Land’s End on Sunday (31 July).

Believed to be the first time such a journey has been undertaken on horseback by a vet, Kate set off in April, but it’s not all been plain sailing.

“The hardest part was watching my horse in the first couple of weeks, coping with the routine of inconsistency,” she said. “Horses like routine, they like their herd existence but each day was different and we were on our own, but thankfully Marilyn adapted well.

“We’ve had some scary moments, the traffic across Britain is concerning, the speeds fast and the roads much busier than I ever expected. In those early days, with endless wind and rain, and very difficult terrain and tracks, it would have been easy to give up.

“But through the highs and the lows, I am hugely thankful for the opportunity to gain an even closer connection to my horse, Marilyn. Having spent this journey and time together, I really feel she is with me both mentally and physically.

“She follows me without a lead rope, she’ll simply fall into step behind me and we instinctively understand one another. It’s very special.”

The ride took three months to complete and Kate raised more than £15,000, well over her target of £5,000.

“When I look back over the challenge and the ride, I don’t think I will ever forget the stunning landscapes, the mountains and hills, valleys and rivers, and the dramatic skies,” she said. “And perhaps above all else, the kindness of strangers.

“I have met so many lovely people and I’ve discussed all sorts of subjects with people I have never met before. Basically, I found the world really is full of kind people, who will genuinely put themselves out to help you in all sorts of ways.

“Some have kindly delivered feed and water for Marilyn and occasionally and spontaneously cake and a G&T for me! Those people know who they are, who also gave Marilyn a field and me a bed for the night. As weary travellers we couldn’t have asked for more.

“So many kind individuals, far and wide, who stuck their hands in their pockets and made donations. It’s not an easy time for anyone at the moment, and I have been so incredibly touched by everyone’s generosity”

Pets As Therapy is a national charity that strives to ensure that everyone, no matter their circumstances, has access to the companionship of an animal to improve their own health and well-being.

Vetlife provides a helpline, along with financial and health support to the veterinary profession which has one of the highest suicide rates of the professions.

“Vetlife gave myself and my staff amazing support through a difficult time at the practice a few years ago and I wanted to raise funds for them so they can continue to help others,” Kate added.

“It’ll be strange fitting in again with everyday life and going back to work, but I know how fortunate I have been to be able to do this. It will be strange for Marilyn too, I am sure she will love being back with her field companions but she’s incredibly fit now, so I’ll need to continue to do some low level work with her, to settle her back gently into our old riding routine.

“People have asked me, ‘What next?’ I think I need to take the time to think seriously how I might help others, not just with the donations but also from any learnings I have gained along the way. Some have suggested a book, or talks, or podcasts but I think I need to consider what’s best. Maybe a new adventure, coast to coast or to go back and have more time in beautiful Scotland?

“Whatever, I do, I feel so touched to have had the support of so many Facebook friends and supporters. Despite my ravings, their kind words each day, their rallying cries and their love has made my quest with Marilyn all the more possible and enjoyable.

“Thank you so much to everyone who connected with me in person or digitally, it has meant so much and it will be something we will never forget.”

You can sponsor Kate here

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