Alternative competitions open to all aim to lift riders’ lockdown spirits

  • A series of short challenges for grounded equestrians is open to everyone – with the aim of lifting lockdown spirits.

    Forces Equine, a not-for-profit organisation supporting riders who work in the armed forces and emergency and government services, is running a virtual league, with past classes including muddiest horse, best groom and horse and owner who look most alike (pictured, above).

    Entrants submit pictures, from which a shortlist is drawn up by a judge, and a winner decided by one of the organisation’s sponsors.

    Forces Equine founder Debi Heath French told H&H the idea came about after the organisation’s annual show, due to run in September in partnership with the UK Emergency Services Games, was postponed.

    “People were on a downer because they said they wanted the Forces Equine party, but they’re loving this,” she said. “They’re saying it’s bonkers but they’re having a good laugh.”

    Debi said the competitions involve “anything you can do at home that doesn’t involve riding”, also including the best mane and tail plaits, and worst-destroyed rug, with prizes for the winners and rosettes made by Trophies 4 Everything for all who are shortlisted.

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    “All our sponsors, such as Voltaire, Fomo, Botanica and Lincoln, are being amazing and they’re sending really good prizes out,” she said. “I’m so grateful to them, and it’s about keeping people buzzing and happy, and keeping their spirits up without them having to spend any money.”

    Debi said the league, named the FEBB league in honour of member Becca Brown, a lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy, will run “as long as we can’t go out”.

    “If there’s anything we can do to lift spirits – I think people need it more than ever.”

    Debi is also offering a year’s free Forces Equine membership to NHS workers, which they can activate as soon as lockdown measures are lifted.

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