The Big Hoof Ride Across the Heart of Europe

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Over 3000km across the heart of Europe, a young Scottish adventurer and Sasha, his Arabian horse, will ride to raise money and awareness for mental health and refugee trauma. Every step they make will be in aid of AMNA, a UK based charity operating on the borders of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, combating the emotional impact upon civilians. The journey will be made into a documentary.

 

The Big Hoof ride is one of many charitable deeds and initiatives that the world is creating to help those who need it most, but the power in our story is its ability to ignite and inspire people from all walks of life to go out of their comfort zone, to break the mould, unite and create something extraordinary and positive in these darker times.

As a result of the worldwide lockdown and amidst these challenging times, it is vital to be shinning a light on mental health. At least one in four people now suffer from mental
health issues and this struggle is now most common in young people. Many endure this illness alone and in silence, with no consolation, cure or remedy.

This is a time for the Gift of Hope; the root and source of this journey and the most powerful thing there is. The relationship and bond made between Louis and Sasha will provide the raw foundation for themes of trust, belief and discovery. Horsemanship, perseverance and the kindness of strangers will be clear for all to see. Over 3000km across the heart of Europe, a young Scottish adventurer and Sasha, his Arabian horse, will ride to raise money and awareness for mental health and refugee trauma. Every step they make will be in aid of AMNA, a UK based charity operating on the borders of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, combating the emotional impact upon civilians. The journey will be made into a documentary. If you love nature and horseback riding, read this article about horseback riding in bend.

The Man

In 2020 Louis Hall rode one horse alone down the entire length of the UK to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. The ride raised over £38,000 for charity and the BBC named it ‘The Big Hoof.’ The Big Hoof has now become a vehicle for charitable causes and continues to raise money for charities all over the world.

Growing up in the Highlands of Scotland, Louis was born with a taste for life and adventure. At 18 he bought 3 horses and rode around Lake Khovsgol in Northern Mongolia. Later that year he mustered cattle on horseback in the deserts of Alice Springs, Australia. He has been a wild tour guide in the Sierra Morena Mountains of Spain and has subsequently travelled through India and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean where he was given a job as a blues pianist in Antigua. At 21 he was spotted by an acting agent. He has since been acting in London and Europe. In 2019 he won the ‘Best Leading Actor’ award at the Rome International Prisma Film Festival and he recently played the lead role in upcoming feature film, ‘Stella’, set in 1937 Scotland.

When Louis is not acting, he teaches horse riding in the world-famous Hyde Park in London, and when he is not teaching horse riding, he teaches the drums and the piano.

Louis has collectively raised over £100,000 for the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, Firefly International, FACE FAW and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. The Big Hoof is a charitable  organisation that Louis formed so that he could create rides for causes that need it most.
The conflict in the Ukraine has affected all of us and a sense of unity and care has spread across the world in the response of this tragedy. The Big Hoof aims to raise money for AMNA through this challenge across Europe but, as always, this ride is to inspire others to believe in their own capabilities, to believe in themselves and their potential for giving. What mental health means to the world now in 2022 will encompass this journey.

The Route

Travelling from Castello del Calcione, Louis and Sasha will travel north through Tuscany upon the Via Francigena before arriving at the Via Alta Monte Liguri, the notorious path to take them over the Alps.

After the mountains they make their way through the rolling vineyards towards Arles, Toulouse, the spiritual site of Lourdes and then over the Pyrenees to meet the Camino de Santiago – the world – famous pilgrimage that joins and celebrates almost the entirety of Europe. From here they will travel across through Basque county and across the north coast of Spain before arriving at Land’s End: Cape Finisterre.

This route will create the fertile path for their message of hope – embracing themes of unity, endurance, love, challenge and reflection – as they journey across the heart of Europe.

Strangers and friends are encouraged to follow, join and support Louis and Sasha along their route and those at home can be with them through social media, press and online every step of the way.

The Charities

There are incredible charities, organisations and individuals from around the world helping with the effects of the Russian conflict. The Big Hoof chose to raise funds for AMNA as it found a connection with its mission. AMNA ‘develops tools and resources to help refugees, aid workers, and organisation to build approaches to manage stress, insecurity, trauma.’

The Big Hoof is an organisation built on action. Mental health is an issue relevant to  everyone, an illness often ignored and perceived as unimportant. It can curtail a person’s freedom and world – a person’s life.

The Big Hoof will raise awareness and funds by travelling over 2500km. The ride aims to connect local charity groups, mental health charities, pony clubs, sports teams, musicians,
supporters, strangers and friends alike. The Big Hoof will provide a daily update with their progress and will reach out to press and TV to allow for the unity of the cause to be felt
wherever they go. Please follow #thebighoof on Instagram and @thebighoof on Facebook and donate on to the Justgiving page.

The Documentary

The story that Louis will experience is one that needs to be shared. The journey will inform, inspire and ignite a sense of adventure, unity and hope. Throughout the ride social media, local newspapers, radio and all forms of press will be accessed to spread the word and the
message. As Louis and Sasha make their way across Europe, their mission for mental health will be internationally heard. Creating a documentary will allow it to be heard forever.

The route is unique and the message is inspiring; what The Big Hoof has created is ideal for this truthful narrative to continue into a documentary. Each step that Louis and Sasha make can be used to promote the story, the mission and the raw sense of watching someone create a timeless journey for a cause so relevant to the world today. To be part of this is to be part of something that can only grow and can only grow for good.

We want to capture a world that we love and a world that has been starved by aggression and oppression. Every single person has suffered in one way or another from the effects of the pandemic and the Ukrainian conflict has devastated the lives of millions of innocent
people. The greatest effects of war will be unseen for years to come. We want to show the audience a journey in these dark times that strives for something better, something wild and wonderful that has almost been forgotten.

The Previous Route

One man, one horse on a journey to keep hope alive. The Big Hoof was a journey made in memory of Leo, a friend of Louis’, who died of a disease called Cystic Fibrosis.

‘On a windy day in July, I rode away from John O’Groats, and didn’t see the sea again for over 1000 miles. I set off on my journey with Irelanda, a 5-yearold Highland/Connemara mare, and I decided to ride her bit- less and alone.

Leo died at the age of 26 due to Cystic Fibrosis. I wanted to create something that would shine a light on how fragile and limited some people’s lives had become during the outbreak of Covid-19 and how everyone who is healthy can make a difference for
those who need it most. With every day that we travelled and with each step, person and place that we encountered, I was moved and inspired by the incredible hope, love and spirit that remained so strong in a country and a time that felt so detached and alone.

Suffering is for everyone, no matter what background you come from and suffering is an intrinsic part of what allows us to be wholly free, human and complete. Giving hope, however, is a choice, a powerful and wilful choice made in our freedom; The Big Hoof
was a journey and a message ignited and sustained by nothing but warm glowing acts of kindness and hope.

57 days in total. The journey had its ups and downs but this was what made it real. It was an adventure: uncharted and unknown. On day three we fell into a sink hole in the bleak moorlands of Caithness. We were charged by two cows making our way across the Pennines. A tree swung and fell on us during Storm Francis and I had to walk 80 miles on foot to protect Irelanda from going lame. Irelanda and I met the author Michael Morpurgo and we stayed and lived with the Gifford Circus. We frequented over fifty pubs and twenty cafes. We saw the most beautiful, shocking and tranquil parts of the United Kingdom and we were passed down the country in the hands of kind loving strangers. The storms and sunsets of my 1147-mile journey to Land’s End managed to raise over £38,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. The target was £10,000. If this journey had been documented on film the effect would have been even greater.’