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Warning over British Eventing’s lorry-sharing ‘buddy’ system

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Riders are praising a new “buddy” system set up by British Eventing (BE) to help lone eventers get to competitions, but some industry figures are concerned.

The new “buddy” area on the BE forum was set up at the end of May for “members to have a place to co-ordinate lift-sharing”.

“There was an evident demand for this and the natural progression was to create a specific area,” said BE’s Mike Barnes. “It is just a forum though. Arrangements must be made between users.”

And BE spokesman Nina Lloyd Jones added that BE offered no guidelines as to how lift-sharing should be organised as “individual requirements are all so different”.

She said: “It’s not an avoidance of responsibility, we just didn’t want to confuse people. It’s up to them to make sure they are organised.”

But Lee Hackett from the British Horse Society warned that drivers must ensure they have the correct licensing and insurance if they offer a lift to their new buddy.

“It’s a great idea as it saves pounds and our carbon footprint, but everyone involved should be fully covered. If drivers could take it in turns without exchanging money that would be best.”

Jon Phillips, from the Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer Owners, agreed, saying: “It’s a lovely idea but to transport someone’s horses you may need an operator’s licence, hire and reward insurance and certificates of compliancy and competency. You have to be very careful.”

David Buckton from South Essex Insurance Brokers added: “People do need to make sure they don’t stray in to ‘hire and reward’ territory but a contribution towards fuel shouldn’t be a problem as long as there is no profit element.”

However, the forum area has proved popular not just for lift-sharing but with members wanting to “buddy up” at events with fellow competitors.

“Quite often I tend to go eventing alone so it was really nice to have some help and support,” said Melanie Herbert who used the forum to find a buddy for the BE100 at Shelford Manor recently.

“As well as having someone to help with my horse, it was nice to share views and have someone to celebrate with when I won. I wouldn’t be prepared to share transport though, you never know how your horse will be in that situation,” she added.

And Lorna Rodda from Cornwall, who found someone living close by who offered to help her at an event, thinks it’s a “great system”.

• For more information visit www.britisheventing.com/buddysystem

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (17 June, ’10)