Alison Muir and Lucy Pickford from the Stonetrail Riding Centre near Ravenstonedale were joined by farmer Hilary Fawcett from South Stainmore and Marie Wray from Teesdale for the charity event.
They were raising funds for mental health charities, while raising awareness of the benefits horses can bring to mental health.
The Pennine Bridleway, a 205 mile national trail from Cumbria to the Peak District, opened in 2012 and was designed for long distance horse riding.
Speaking at Yore House Farm in Upper Wensleydale at the start of Tuesday’s 18 mile journey to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Alison Muir, on cob Sam, said: “When the Horses for Health route was being planned it was obvious the Pennine Bridleway would be a superb way to carry the baton along. We are raising funds for mental health charities and awareness that horses can bring a lot of positive therapy to people, brightening their lives. They are very friendly creatures who understand you and want social contact with people. Most of all horses want you to be kind and they want you to love them. So if someone’s got a bit of love to give, but maybe they can’t give to somebody else, they should give it to a horse – and they’ll get bounce back.
“I’ve taken hundreds of riders up and down the Pennine Bridleway. It is a tremendous route, so it’s fantastic that Horses for Health are using it, because it will help to promote it much more. It’s mostly off-road, the tracks are in really good nick, and the scenery is outstanding – it’s big skies all the way. You come down into the valleys simply to reach a new valley and then you are up in the hills again.”
Member Champion for Recreation Management at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Nick Cotton, said: “‘Horses for Health’ is using the Pennine Bridleway in just the way it was designed to be used. Participants are riding a length of the trail over a number of days and making the most of the hospitality on offer along the way. It is satisfying to see the trail supporting a charity and enabling a fundraising event.”
He added: “The Pennine Bridleway is a completely separate trail to the Pennine Way. While it’s a great route for walkers and cyclists, it was designed specifically for horse riders and that point is sometimes missed. It is a fantastic asset but not well known. It’s good that Alison and her friends are helping to put the word out about it.”