SCORES of horses are expected to take part in a new endurance riding event in a North- East forest later this month.

It has been 15 years since Hamsterley Forest, near Bishop Auckland, has hosted a competitive endurance horse riding event.

Riders will take their horses around the forest before heading to Hamsterley Common.

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The ride is called The Elephant Trees, taken from a collection of trees on a stage of the course which look like elephants.

The organisers of the event, on Sunday, June 28, hope the forest could host the Northern Championships when they come to County Durham in 2011.

There will be four distances riders can compete in – 18km, 25km, 40km and 65km.

Although the longer distances are only open to elite riders and members of riding clubs, the shorter distances are open to everyone, and organiser Karen David is hoping people who have never tried the sport will take part.

“It’s a wonderful way to ride,” said Ms David, a member of Durham and Teesside group of Endurance Great Britain.

“We go fast, but we are not hammering round the track and destroying it.

“This area is really pretty and it’s great way to ride.”

Ms David has organised the event with friend Sylvia Briggs.

“A lot of the other courses in the county are suburban, but this one really gets people out into the countryside,” she said.

Riders will be guided by biodegradable paint markings that will disappear days after the event has finished.

Competitors must register their horses before the event. For more details, go to durhamandteessideegb.org.uk