For the eleventh consecutive year, the annual Wingello Forest Endurance ride was held on the fourth weekend in May with close to 350 horses attending.
There was something for everyone at Wingello which one rider described as "the perfect family weekend".
Rides varied in distance from 5kms, 10kms, 20kms, 40kms and 80kms with riders - many of them first-timers - encouraged to pit themselves against the weather, the terrain and the clock over four-wheel-drive tracks and soft forestry trails to achieve their distance of choice.
Wingello offered a blend of seasons and a collage of landscapes combining to make it one of the best rides on the calendar. The course was an adventurous mix of pine forest, mountain tops offering spectacular views and rainforest gullies displaying secret fern gardens and cool mountain streams.
While the ride organisers had planned meticulously for the huge numbers of horses that attended, the weather was not about to be organised. During the shorter rides on Saturday afternoon, the sun shone and riders cheerfully competed on Thoroughbreds, Shetland ponies and Standardbreds and everything else in between.
By Sunday morning, one strapper described the weather as "perishingly cold". But the arrival of rain settled the dust on track and a spectacular sunrise greeted the 80km riders as they left the ride base at 7am.
The cool forest and shade of the trees throughout the course made temperatures ideal and provided shelter from the cold wind blowing from the Snowy Mountains.
First in the Middleweight division was Darryl King from Westbrook, NSW riding James Bonn in a time of 4hrs 40mins.
First in the Heavyweight division was Jolene Cole riding Baribo while first Lightweight was Liberty Mercer riding Castlebar Roulette and first Junior was Sophie Ramsay riding Autumnight Goldmine.
The well organised base camp engaged shopaholics with some retail therapy from Archer Equine, Equissage, Fibre Fresh Feeds, The Mobile GG spot, Dixon Smith Equestrian, CWA Exeter Branch, Jojubi Saddlery and Performa Ride while The Wingello Village Store and Snax on Trax Café kept everyone well fed.
Dave Newman was back once again entertaining the crowd with his delightful musical offerings around the camp fire.
Said ride organiser, Bec Hogan: "We were treated to a magnificent display of stars through the evening, due to the late moon-rise, and those of us who stayed late around the campfire discovered that Donna Scott has a beautiful singing voice."