A RIDER from the Cotswolds set off to take part in the toughest horse riding challenge in the world on Sunday.

Rosie Bathurst, 24, has travelled to Mongolia to take part in the 1,000km Mongol Derby, all in aid of a charity that supports vulnerable veterans.

The former Westonbirt School pupil will be riding semi-wild, unpredictable horses and has only five kilograms of luggage to live out of during the ten day challenge

The gruelling course recreates Genghis Khan's legendary empire-busting postal system, with riders racing for 10 days, changing horse every 40km, and living with herders or camping under the stars.

Having read about Irish MP, Owen Paterson, taking part in the 2011 derby, Rosie had her heart set on competing in the race ever since, but a series of knee injuries and broken bones kept setting it back year after year.

Thankfully, with the help of The Markland Physiotherapy Clinic, Rosie is back in one piece and ready to head off in August.

Before setting off Rosie said: “I can't wait to get to Mongolia now, it has been such an exciting but also nerve racking experience leading up to this week.

“I can only hope my challenge is as uneventful as possible, however, I am fully aware this is unlikely.

“At some point during the race I do expect to be chased by a wild dog, go without food, lose or break my equipment, drink too much fermented mares milk and chase after my pony on foot.

“The ponies I will be racing are semi-wild and a fair number have never been ridden.

“I hope it will be a life changing trip and by doing such an extreme challenge I can raise awareness and money for my charity.”

Rosie will be raising money for Walking With the Wounded (WWTW), a charity that provides vulnerable veterans’ independence through employment.

Her brother is a Royal Marine and has spent time in Afghanistan, thankfully returning safe and without injury; but his time on tour was not without worry.

“WWTW is an amazing charity and the work they do I feel very strongly about,” continued Rosie.

“There is very little done in the way of helping our wounded service men and women back in to civilian life when they leave service following injury, but WWTW help to make the gap a little smaller.

“These veterans have given up their lives to help keep all of us safe and yet we let them suffer even more by not supporting them with the respect and dignity they deserve to reintegrate back into society.

“I am hugely proud to say I am riding the longest, toughest horse race in the world to help these men and women.

“Many have the challenge of coping with life with mental and severe physical injuries; causing them to lose homes, jobs and even sometimes their families and friends.

“So riding 1000km on a wild pony is the least I can do to raise awareness and money to help these incredibly brave men and women.”

Andrew Cook, director of fundraising at WWTW, said: “What Rosie is embarking on embodies the spirit and determination which is exemplified by the men and women we support.

“We are delighted that she has chosen to use her Mongol Derby challenge to raise much needed funds for, and awareness of, WWTW.

“Rosie has been inspired to support us having seen the necessary work which we do supporting the most vulnerable ex-servicemen and women who have found the transition out of the military challenging through support with employment, mental health well-being and social integration.

“We wish Rosie the best of luck and we will be following her every step of the way.”

To support Rosie, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rosiederby16 and to keep up to date with her challenge online, visit facebook.com/rosiemongolderby2016

For more information on Walking With the Wounded visit walkingwiththewounded.org.uk