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Local support for horsewoman's 1300-mile UK ride from Groats


By David G Scott

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Natalie Oag and her faithful companion chihuahua Louis stand next to Kate McMorris and Marilyn the horse at the Groats archway – the official starting and ending point for Jogle/Lejog trips. Picture: DGS
Natalie Oag and her faithful companion chihuahua Louis stand next to Kate McMorris and Marilyn the horse at the Groats archway – the official starting and ending point for Jogle/Lejog trips. Picture: DGS

A vet's solo horse ride from John O'Groats to Land's End got off to a good start with a little help from the owner of a Lyth-based stables.

Kate McMorris (50), a director at Seadown Veterinary Services in the New Forest, had left her horse Marilyn overnight with Natalie Oag, from the Horsin' Around stables, who then wished her good luck as she set off from John O'Groats the following day.

"It's going to take me about three months to complete the journey and I'll be camping along the route," said Kate who is raising money for two charities – Vetlife and Pets as Therapy.

Kate getting ready to set off on her 1300-mile charity ride on Marilyn the horse. Picture: DGS
Kate getting ready to set off on her 1300-mile charity ride on Marilyn the horse. Picture: DGS
Kate McMorris, at left, with Natalie Oag at the famous John O'Groats fingerpost. Picture: DGS
Kate McMorris, at left, with Natalie Oag at the famous John O'Groats fingerpost. Picture: DGS
Kate McMorris with her horse Marilyn at John O'Groats. Picture: DGS
Kate McMorris with her horse Marilyn at John O'Groats. Picture: DGS

Setting off on April 29, Kate said that she had previously undertaken a 200-mile trek on horseback along the Pennines. "I was 20 then... not 50 and it was on a completely different horse, so it might be a bit different. This one [Marilyn] is completely chilled out and I bred her. She's an American quarter horse."

Kate, who specialises in eye surgery for cats, dogs and horses, said: “The trek is not a quest for the faint-hearted and as far as I am aware, it’ll be the first attempt for a vet."

Covering between 12-25 miles a day, Kate will carry all the necessary kit for wild camping, and will be exploring the British countryside with six-year-old palomino Marilyn.

Kate steadies Marilyn as they ride under the archway at Groats with little headroom to spare. Picture: DGS
Kate steadies Marilyn as they ride under the archway at Groats with little headroom to spare. Picture: DGS
Kate getting ready to set off on her 1300-mile charity ride on Marilyn the horse. Picture: DGS
Kate getting ready to set off on her 1300-mile charity ride on Marilyn the horse. Picture: DGS

“Some stops are already organised, but many will have to be arranged on the route – thank goodness for social media,” she added.

Kate finds that spending time with animals is a great way of helping reduce her stress levels, and shows how much "animals can help people in so many ways".

"The veterinary profession is a stressful one, but it is helped by our daily interaction with these amazing creatures. My chosen charities are Vetlife which provides emotional, financial and mental health support to the veterinary community, and Pets As Therapy a national charity that enhances the health and wellbeing of thousands of people in communities across the UK."

Stables owner Natalie Oag walked with the vet as she started off on her long trek to Land's End. Picture: DGS
Stables owner Natalie Oag walked with the vet as she started off on her long trek to Land's End. Picture: DGS
Kate on her beloved six-year-old palomino, Marilyn, and her husband Steve who is providing support for the first 10 days. Picture: DGS
Kate on her beloved six-year-old palomino, Marilyn, and her husband Steve who is providing support for the first 10 days. Picture: DGS
Natalie walked a mile with Kate as she started off on her long trek to Land's End. Picture: DGS
Natalie walked a mile with Kate as she started off on her long trek to Land's End. Picture: DGS

Apart from Natalie and her pet chihuahua Louis seeing Kate off were a few local supporters including Carol Spencer from Dounreay who had met Kate at a horsemanship course in the New Forest. "I offered some help and said she could stay with me while up here. She's an accomplished horsewoman and I thought I'd just come along with a few people to wave her off."

To donate to Kate's charities visit www.justgiving.com/team/gbvettrek

Her journey can also be followed on Facebook at The Great British Vet Trek


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