A fund-raising initiative to give 20,000 primary school children the chance to learn to ride was launched by Zara Phillips today in London’s Hyde Park.

The launch was part of the Jeep National Riding Festival, which runs from June to August and involves taking “Trigger”, a lifelike mechanical horse that responds to its rider, into 50 primary schools during the summer term.

Zara Phillips was joined at the launch by children from Holy Trinity School in London who receive free instruction at Hyde Park Riding Centre each week.

“It is a very rewarding experience to see a child enjoying their first time on a horse and Trigger will bring riding into primary schools in urban areas where children have not had easy access to horses,” said Zara.

An additional fund-raising mission also announced today is the brainchild of Horse & Hound magazine editor Arnold Garvey, who will embark on a sponsored ride through Zimbabwe this week to help raise £75,000.

“I am looking forward to this challenging expedition,” said Arnold. “I hope that my efforts will encourage more donations to the Trigger Fund so that children who might not get the chance to try riding are able to meet trigger and have a go.”