HORSE riders have welcomed the launch of what is thought to be one of the first dedicated horse car parks in the region.

The park, in the historic mining area of Devon Consols, near Tavistock, is dedcated to horse riders who can buy a £50 permit for the year in order to park trailers, horse boxes and horses secure and safe.

Having the ability to park in the middle of Tavistock Woodland Estate also saves riders from having to risk their lives by riding on unsuitable road to preferred off-road locations to enjoy a safe canter or trot.

Horse rider Fleur Forer was the driving force behind the six-year search for a horse-box site which has been made possible with a partnership between the woodland owner, the British Horse Society (BHS) and Hanson quarry owners.

Fleur, who is a park ranger for the Tamar Community Trust in the saddle of her horse Taz, said: ‘This is a fantastic day for all riders in the area and, as an owner and rider myself, I know how important it is to be able to go somewhere that you are confident can take your horse box. The car park at Tamar Trails is too small for horse boxes and then to unload and set up a horse. Also, it’s not really safe to mix with children and other cars.

‘But here we have plenty of space and high fences and also a mounting box, where riders can get into the saddle from a set of steps. It’s also in the middle of about 20 miles of lovely forest rides.  The alternative is to ride on the road to somewhere nice to ride and risk accidents on the roads.’

She thanked the estate for allowing the use of the land (replacing former tenants) and Hansons for providing chippings for the park and the approach track. She thanked woodlands head forester Haydn Bennett, who worked with horse rider David Ponting to initiate the concept.

David, of St Ann’s Chapel, has a thoroughbred horse called Ellie. He said: ‘The horse park means so much to us. It’s firstly, given us freedom to have a guaranteed place to park our transporters and know we won’t annoy other people by taking up so much space. We can let the horses roam safely and have the time to saddle them up and clean and water them if needed without holding up any other people. Haydn’s been a diamond for us. He’s been the catalyst to enable this to happen and was quick to see the benefits.’

Rider Fiona Dalton and her horse Murray come from near Launceston: ‘It’s a lovely peaceful place to ride and calms the horses. It means we don’t have to risk an accident on the roads simply to get somewhere good to ride.’

Philip Hackett, BHS SW access officer, said: ‘Sadly too many riders and horses are dying or injured on South West roads. This will reduce this toll by reducing the need to ride on the road.’