A RIDER from the Cotswolds has returned from Mongolia after completing the toughest horse ride on the planet, all for charity.

Rosie Bathurst, 24, took part in the gruelling 1,000km Mongol Derby last month, in what she described as the best and worst experience of her life.

The former Westonbirt School pupil rode semi-wild, unpredictable horses and slept under the stars during the ten day challenge, which only half of the entrants completed.

Speaking about the experience she said: “It's hard to explain how I felt as I was really enjoying myself but also wishing I was able to just stop and not have to keep going and ride anymore mad wild horses.

“Injuries this year included broken legs, ribs, pelvis and neck, as well as severe dehydration and food poisoning.

“Knowing all these injuries were happening around me, filled us all with a lot of fear.

“At any moment that could be us and this mentally started to exhaust you as you were constantly on the wait for something bad to happen, be it a bucking horse or falling in a marmot hole.

“When crossing the finish line, I definitely had a cry with complete relief and happiness.

“I have spent five years wanted to line up for the Mongol Derby. It really was a dream come true and I won't ever forget that feeling.”

Though the experienced rider had trained hard for the event, she said nothing could have prepared her for what lay ahead.

“No amount of time training never compared to the real thing,” she said.

“Obviously our cold rainy English climate didn't help preparing for an average 35 degree heat and there was no way to practice riding 13 hours a day.

“I knew it was going to hurt and I would physically hurt but after day two every joint in my body was screaming agony.

“Thankfully I only rode a short amount of the race by myself, the rest of the time I was riding with a group of interesting and great people. I think I mentally would have struggled if I'd been by myself longer.

“Even after the time I was alone I started to feel like I was going mad.

“One girl who was riding on her own longer and lost her horse was found talking to a hedgehog and begging it not to leave her alone.”

As the challenge wore on the horses Rosie was riding tried to buck her off as they tired, she was victim to an attack from a swarm of Mongolian flying ants and even had to spend a night in an abandoned goat shed.

Some moments made the pain worth it however.

“The most wonderful feeling happened on day four when we were riding up a hill,” she said.

“As we came over top we fell silent and just stared at the view. We galloped along this valley next to an enormous lake, with a herd of wild horses standing in the water.

“As we went alongside they all came out and started galloping beside us, and a golden eagle flying over the top against the blue sky.”

Rosie was taking part in the ride to raise money for Walking With the Wounded, a charity that helps ex-service men and women back to civilian life through work.

Her brother is a Royal Marine and has spent time in Afghanistan, thankfully returning safe and without injury.

Rosie said having the charity in the back of her mind spurred her on during the trip.

She said: “The charity helps those who have given up their lives to help their country, some with life altering injuries, and yet they haven't given up on their lives.

“Thinking about this helped me to keep going. Finishing this race was going to hopefully help change lives and I had to keep riding.”

So far Rosie has raised £2,000 for the charity, but is still appealing for donations.

To donate, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rosiederby16