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Success stories Hoofprints of Guardians: Erik and Abel's Equestrian Watch

11th December 2023

Retirement for racehorses can unfold in unexpected ways, as King Erik (Erik) and Abel Tasman (Abel), both aged 9, discovered in their picturesque abode near Durham. Their hooves now tread a different path, one that leads them to the heart of a burgeoning Bio-diversity Country Park known as Elemore Country Park near Sunderland. Here, their roles as Equestrian Park Rangers unfold against a backdrop of transformed landscapes.

The area's history, a tapestry of farmland, a once-thriving colliery, and a short-lived golf course, now finds a new chapter in the pages of a natural, biodiverse Country Park. It was during a local 'friends of the park' meeting that concerns about littering and the presence of disruptive quad bikers and off-road motorbikers were voiced. The solution, it seemed, was a dynamic duo on four legs – Erik and Abel.

Every fortnight, Erik and Abel embark on random patrols, covering the expanse with an efficiency unmatched by foot. Their towering statures, Erik at 17'2hh and Abel at 16'2hh, coupled with their serene temperaments, make them an imposing yet beloved presence. Their mission is twofold: deter anti-social behavior and create a safer, more inviting environment. The result has been a near-zero incidence of off-road bikes, a testament to the impact of their equine vigilance.

Twice, bikers attempting entry were met by the majestic duo, promptly reconsidering their course of action. Erik and Abel have become the unsung heroes of Elemore Country Park, their very presence embodying the park's commitment to sustainability and community well-being.

Beyond their patrol duties, Erik and Abel also serve as equine assessors, evaluating the area's potential for equestrian activities. Plans are afoot to open the park for horseback riding in the New Year, transforming it into a haven for riders seeking scenic trails and the thrill of exploration.

As hoofprints mark their journey through meadows once dominated by golf swings, Erik and Abel stand tall as guardians of a revitalised landscape. Elemore Country Park's transformation, guided by these retired racehorses, showcases the untapped potential in the second act of these majestic creatures' lives, proving that even after the race is over, there are still many trails to blaze.

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