A group of horse owners have set up a new equestrian society for leisure riders called the Pleasure Horse Society (PHS), which is offering one equine passport free to all members.

PHS chairman Nicky Griffiths explains: “We are principally a society for owners of pleasure horses, such as those used for local competitions at pony club and riding club shows and hacking.

“Benefits for members include one free EU passport, discounts on further passports, access to members only competitions and special offers, plus regular newsletters and an online community via our website.”

The PHS has been formed to promote better communication between the thousands of leisure riders throughout the UK. Its first initiative is make it simple for owners to get passports for their horses before 1 January 2004, when it becomes compulsory for every equine to have an individual identification number and passport.

Founder PHS member, Mandy Hervieu, told HHO: “There has been a lot of confusion about passports and many owners with horses of unknown breeding are unsure about how to get one.

“The Pleasure Horse Society is trying to proactively help the average horse owner by providing a simple and cost-effective way to get a passport, enabling these law-abiding people to stay on the right side of the law.”

The society received 400 passport applications within the first two days of offering the service and has now issued 2,000 passports just one week later.

Besides being a passport-issuing authority, the Pleasure Horse Society can be best described as a virtual riding club, which plans to negotiate access to discounted products and services for its members.

Society manager, Jo Wright says: “Firstly and foremost, the society plans to be an information service and a place where like-minded people can meet online to talk about their problems and experiences.

“We are not trying to tread on the toes of any other organisations, such as the BHS, which provides a very valuable service to all horse people — we just want to make life easier for horse owners.

“There is real strength in numbers when you are trying to negotiate special offers and discounts. We intend to grow our membership and then exercise our strength to benefit our members financially.”

For more information on the Pleasure Horse Society visit www.pleasurehorsesociety.co.uk. To become a member and claim your free passport (tel: 0870 777 9100)