The Pony Club have awarded the first Blue Cross Welfare merit badges to members who have shown a thorough knowledge of equine welfare.
The Tiverton Hunt Branch of the Pony Club is the first branch to have awarded the new merit badge to a total of five members.
The badge is earned by achieving 10 Pony Club qualifying badges which promote the responsible care and management of horses and ponies.
Qualifying badges include bandaging and rugs, care of the horse’s foot, feeding, first aid, handling and grooming, lorinery, mucking out, perfect paddock, and saddlery and shoeing.
“We believe that successfully taking these 10 badges shows an excellent understanding of equine welfare,” said Emily Wotton of the Tiverton Hunt Branch, who was responsible for training the members.
The Blue Cross merit badge was introduced earlier this year as one of a number of educational initiatives that the charity is aiming at children.
A further 200 badges have already been ordered by other Pony Club branches around the country.
The Blue Cross also offers free talks to Pony Clubs and equestrian colleges in which attendees can learn more about horse welfare.
“The Blue Cross has been a champion of animal welfare for over 100 years and education remains at the heart of our work,” said Kerry Doyle, who is an equine education project officer at the Blue Cross.
“The presentations are getting a great response with several repeat bookings already and it is lovely to see Pony Club members being rewarded for their excellent achievements in equine welfare. I hope to see many more Blue Cross merit badges being awarded throughout the course of the year,” she added.