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Storms ravaging Britain this month have afflicted a range of yards, and prompted some unplanned equestrian rescues.

Twenty ponies competing at the Scottish Showjumping Sponsors’ Show at Rowallan Activity Centre in Ayrshire had to be rescued on New Year’s Eve from temporary outdoor stabling when roofs were ripped off and stables began collapsing in ferocious gales.

As some terrified ponies jumped over their stable doors, others were grabbed around
the neck by anyone who could lend a hand.

Despite the task facing them on grand prix day, the organisers quickly responded by turning the indoor collecting arena into a temporary stable block, while the indoor arena was split to facilitate a warm-up area. A subsequent power cut during the 148cm grand prix forced the remainder of the class to be postponed to the following day.

Centre owner Lord Rowallan praised everyone for their efforts in an extremely frightening situation: “Not one person uttered an angry word, and my thanks go to all those who ensured everyone and everything remained safe and allowed the show to continue with minimal disruption.”

Sadly, pony European team gold medallist Matthew Sampson had to make an early departure from the show after a roof blew off at his yard in Yorkshire. The incident meant Matthew was unable to compete in his last 148cm grand prix as a junior, but he remained upbeat.

“It’s been a great show and, although it would have been nice to do the last class, I’m just glad all the ponies are safe and no one got injured,” he said.

Meanwhile in Fife, producer Sandra Low-Mitchell had to find temporary accommodation for
12 horses after the wind ripped off part of the main stable block at her Balcormo Stud.
With staff off for the evening, Sandra moved the horses by herself and she was amazed at how the youngsters in particular reacted.

“Once they were out of the stables, it was if they knew they had to stay calm,” she said. “They literally followed me around until I found somewhere to put them.”

The weather also created chaos in other parts of the country, with a stable block at Willow Tree Animal Sanctuary in Essex being destroyed.

  • Has your yard been affected by the recent gales? Or have your competition plans been disrupted? Send details of your experience to hheditor@ipcmedia.com

    This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (11 January, ’07)