Sue’s tips for anyone considering the cavalcade
• Think about doing it as a group, or even as a once-in-a-lifetime family ride – it's great to see younger riders come and have a memorable time.
• Be sure of your horse – it may be ok on its own but in a group of 50 it may get excited and jiggle for seven or more hours. “That's hard on the bum,” says Sue.
• Try shorter weekend rides first with large groups and see how you go.
• If you're nervous on the first day, hang out the back with the wranglers. They give good advice, their horses are quieter, and if you get stuck, they provide a steady hand.
• Pick the trail that's right for you as some are easier, others tougher.
• Get ride-fit. It's important, says Sue, because spending seven or more hours in the saddle is tiring and you don't want to miss out on the evening fun. Her training regime includes a lot of walking and gym work.
• Fitness of a cavalcade horse is important too. In 2017, Sue borrowed friend Jacqui Parson's 22-year-young appaloosa, Music.
“He's the toughest little mountain goat around,” says Sue, but she still worked on his fitness. She started riding him six weeks out, one or two 2.5-hour rides and one 4-hour ride a week on hills on the Parson's property.
“As they get fitter, the hills get steeper which gets their lung capacity up and strengthens their backs."