A new awards ceremony was launched in Canada this month to honour horses devotees in the arts, science, sport, philanthropy and commerce.

The event, officially called the “Heroes of Horse Awards”, took place at the Stratford Festival Theatre and is expected to be run annually to raise money for the Equine Research Centre and the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph.

Canadian actor, William Shatner, best known for his role in Star Trek, received his award for spearheading “The Hollywood Charity Horse Show”. He started the show 15 years ago to help provide horses for therapeutic use for disabled riders.

Other celebrities to get awards included singer Bryan Adams for music for the film, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and actress, Bo Derek, for her book Riding Lessons.

Executive director of the research centre, Dr Ken Armstrong, said: “We wanted to celebrate the year of the horse by recognising people who had made a significant contribution to the welfare of the horse. No organisation has done anything like this before – to see it from the horse’s point of view.”

The research centre is largely funded by the racing industry to look into equine diseases. Money raised from the awards event is expected to go into education.

The centre runs a number of educational programmes, including an online equine science certificate.

“It’s aimed at anyone – from those at secondary school level to trainers who’ve been in the business for years,” says Dr Armstrong. “Our aim is benefit the industry by taking research information and turning it into user-friendly information which anyone can understand.”

Visit William Shatner’s website at www.williamshatner.com to find out more about the actor’s interest in horses or to make a donation to the Hollywood Charity Horse Show.

Visit the official Star Trek website at www.startrek.com for all the latest Star Trek news.