Point-to-point just means a horse race in most parts of the country, but the New Forest is one of the few places that has a ‘proper’ point-to-point, where riders race across open country taking any route they like between the starting point and the finishing point.
To make the job harder, the starting point is kept a secret until just before the race. The competitors turn up at a meeting place where they are weighed-in (the race is a handicap), then the starter leads them off through the Forest to the actual starting point. Some riders might have no idea where they are when the race begins, and the competitors can set-off in different directions. The races are usually held on Boxing Day. Today the organisers of the race are very concerned about the safety of the horses, riders and spectators. But not so long ago the riders didn’t even bother to wear hard hats.