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Trail leaders needed for centenary ride

Members of the ACT Equestrian Association preparing for centenary trail ride in November. Click for more photos

ACT Equestrian

Members of the ACT Equestrian Association preparing for centenary trail ride in November. Photo: Jay Cronan

Once the cry rang out in the hills for crack riders with no regard for life or limb to round up brumbies.

Now another appeal is going out, this time for people with horse sense and a high regard for life and limb.

The ACT Equestrian Association is holding a centenary trail ride on Sunday, November 10, to raise the profile of the excellent riding on parts of the Bicentennial National Trail.

One of the celebrations to mark 100 years of Canberra as the national capital, the event needs ride bosses - experienced riders to keep an eye on groups of 10 horses and riders.

Endurance rider Maxine McArthur and her 10-year-old mare Indy have answered the call.

They will lead others on tracks, road verges, fire trails and river crossings. While there are no perilous slopes or wombat holes, something as simple as a cyclist flashing by, or a plastic bag caught by the wind, can throw a scare into a horse.

''So you are always watching where you are going, making sure you don't put your horse into a difficult situation you can't get out off,'' Ms McArthur said.

''Keeping an eye on the flapping washing and dump trucks and people with prams and umbrellas, all those charming things. We have a lot of really pleasant cyclists in the ACT, [who] ring their bell or yell out to let you know they're coming.''

Equestrian association president Christine Lawrence said any volunteers who felt they could provide leadership and had the right level of riding skills and horse sense would be considered.

Ms McArthur, who has tackled endurance rides of up to 80 kilometres on her part-Arab red chestnut, said the centenary ride would emphasise safety and celebrate a great horse riding community with numerous trails through the suburbs.

''It tends to be a low-profile sport, it's personal, but it's actually a strong community here,'' she said.

One of the longest marked multi-use trails in the world, covering 5,330 kilometres from Queensland to Victoria, the bicentennial trail from Hall passes around west Belconnen, through the National Arboretum to Equestrian Park, Curtin campsite. From there it crosses the Molonglo River and continues through the Cooleman Ridge on to Tharwa.

Ms McArthur rides with a regular group. They meet joggers, people putting out their bins - often seeing the same faces, and some surprises.

''We see kangaroos, quite a lot of foxes around the suburbs, lots of rabbit, echidnas. The other day we saw three different species of wallabies all within 100 yards.''

She said Canberra's horse community looked forward to people coming through the territory on the national trail and offered them plenty of support.

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